Marriott set to reopen

Islamabad, December 25:

Pakistan will see the re-opening of the luxury Marriott Hotel in the capital Islamabad on Sunday, just three months after it was ripped apart by a truck bomb that killed 60 people and wounded another 260.

The attack, by a suicide bomber whose vehicle was packed with 600 kg of explosives, was the worst in the besieged country this year and reduced the hotel to a charred shell on September 20.

The blast sent shudders through Islamabad, causing damage to hundreds of other buildings when the bomber rammed the truck into the outer gates of the Marriott, near Pakistan’s presidential palace and key government facilities.

The city’s expatriate community was left reeling by the bombing, which killed the Czech ambassador, two Americans and a Vietnamese woman.

Peter Alex, the chief operating officer of the Hashoo group which owns the 289-room

hotel, says, “New concepts of security and safety have been used in the extensive renovation work to ensure guests can check in without fear.”

“It will be the Fort Knox of Pakistan,” Alex told AFP, referring to the site where the United States stores most of its official gold reserves. Alex said 60 rooms would be available from Sunday for the Marriott’s “soft re-opening”, with the entire hotel due to be open for business by March. He said the re-opening would “bring back to life a hotel which has been the centre of activity in Islamabad for more than 30 years.”