Page last updated at 16:31 GMT, Wednesday, 1 October 2008 17:31 UK

Diplomat children to return to UK

Bombed hotel site
A little-known militant group has taken responsibility for the attack

Children of UK diplomats and staff based in Islamabad are to be withdrawn from Pakistan following the bombing at the capital city's Marriott hotel.

Following a security review the Foreign Office said about 60 children, all aged under eight, would be affected.

The suicide bombing on 20 September killed 53 people and injured 266.

The move brings the British High Commission into line with Canada and Australia who also have a no-children policy for diplomats in Pakistan.

The US, Netherlands and Denmark all have a no-dependents policy.

The core work of the High Commission will not be affected
Foreign Office

The move comes after British Airways suspended "indefinitely" flights to and from Pakistan in the wake of the attack.

The company said six services a week from Heathrow were being stopped "in light of the current security situation".

'Strong relationship'

A little-known militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which left six Britons - including two children of diplomats - with injuries.

In a statement, the Foreign Office said partners and spouses would also be offered the opportunity to return to the UK.

It said: "The core work of the High Commission will not be affected.

"The UK is committed to maintaining its strong relationship with Pakistan, especially at this difficult time.

"The attack on the Marriott Hotel reinforces our shared determination to tackle violent extremism."

The Foreign Office added it was continuing to advise British nationals against non-essential travel to Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar "in view of the heightened threat to Westerners" in the cities.

It said: "We also advise against using major international hotels which are frequented by Westerners at this time."

The families of British diplomats left Islamabad amid heightened security after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US but were later allowed to return.

There are no dependents of diplomats at the UK embassies in Iraq or Afghanistan.




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