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Page last updated at 17:44 GMT, Monday, 22 September 2008 18:44 UK

Militants claim Marriott attack

See the scale of the damage at the Marriott in Islamabad

A little known Pakistani militant group, Fidayeen-e-Islam, says it carried out Saturday's devastating attack on the Islamabad Marriott hotel.

The group told the BBC the aim of the attack was to stop American interference in Pakistan.

The group is based in Pakistan's tribal areas and connected to leading militant Baitullah Mehsud.

The suicide bomb devastated the hotel, killing at least 53 people and injuring more than 266.

Pakistan has seen new outbreaks of violence since the hotel bombing.

  • A suicide bomber killed nine troops in the Madiyan area of the volatile Swat valley of north-west Pakistan. It was unclear who was responsible
  • Troops reportedly fired on US helicopters that violated Pakistani airspace near the border with Afghanistan on Sunday night
  • In Peshawar, capital of North West Frontier Province, an Afghan diplomat was kidnapped and his driver killed, reports say

'Muslim interests'

The BBC Urdu service in Islamabad received a call from the Fidayeen-e-Islam group which gave instructions to call another number. That number played out a recorded message in English.

The purpose of this attack is to kick American crusaders out of Pakistan
Fidayeen-e-Islam

It said the aim of the Marriott attack was to kick "American crusaders" out of Pakistan and stop them interfering in the government, the military and the media, as well as security, religious and other institutions in Pakistan.

It also said that some 250 US marines had been killed in the attack, together with many officials from Nato and other countries involved in attacks on Muslim interests in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

However, almost all of the dead were Pakistanis. The Czech ambassador to Pakistan, one Vietnamese, a German and an American were among the dead, with an American and a Danish intelligence officer missing, presumed dead.

The Fidayeen-e-Islam group are reported to operate out of the tribal region of Waziristan along the Afghan border.

The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan in Islamabad reports that they are believed to have close links to the Tehrik-e Taleban Pakistan, a loose alliance of militants led by Baitullah Mehsud, who the previous government blamed for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

Our correspondent says the Fidayeen-e-Islam is believed to be composed largely of former members of the militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad, which is banned in Pakistan and was involved in several high-profile incidents there.

These include the murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl and an attack that nearly killed President Pervez Musharraf in December 2003.

In Monday's taped message the group said that if missiles were the technology of the US, then suicide attacks were the group's technology.

Taleban suspects

The heavily guarded Islamabad Marriott was attacked at about 2000 (1500 GMT) on Saturday.

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The BBC's Damian Grammaticas tours the site of the bomb attack

CCTV footage of the moments before the blast show a six-wheeler lorry ramming the security barrier at the hotel gate.

The bomb - believed to have been detonated in the lorry - left a six-metre (20ft) crater.

Residents of Islamabad have told the BBC there is now a climate of fear in the city with people too scared to go out.

The blast has prompted British Airways to cancel some flights to Pakistan "in light of the security situation".

The Marriott was the most prestigious hotel in the capital, located near government buildings and diplomatic missions. It was popular with foreigners and the Pakistani elite.

Map

The hotel has previously been the target of militants. Last year, a suicide bomber killed himself and one other in an attack at the hotel.

The BBC's Barbara Plett, in Islamabad, says the latest attack might have been retaliation for army bombardments of suspected Taleban targets with jet fighters.

The Pakistani government has said it will take targeted action against the militants, promising raids in some "hotspots" near the border with Afghanistan.


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