Nirupama Subramanian

Reward of Pak Rs.10 lakh announced for information on Marriott bomber

  • Interior Ministry officials blame pro-Taliban militants
  • "Pakistan targeted for role in war on terror"

    ISLAMABAD: Pakistani investigators are still looking for leads to pinpoint those behind a spate of deadly suicide bombings, including the one at the Marriott hotel in the capital last week.

    Police have released a sketch of the Marriott bomber and have offered a reward of Pak Rs.10 lakh (approximately $17,000) for information about him.

    The blast at the hotel on January 26 killed a security guard and the bomber, hours before the Indian High Commission held its annual Republic Day reception there.

    The hotel is also a well-known meeting point for many diplomats and the large numbers of other foreigners in the capital.

    While several conjectures are afloat about the attack, including the possibility that the bomber intended to target the Indian event, the other suicide blasts that have claimed several lives over the last few days seemed to be targeted at Pakistan's minority Shia population in the days before Moharram.

    In the North-West Frontier Province town of Dera Ismail Khan, a bomber killed two people and himself in an attack on a Shia procession of Dera Ismail Khan on Monday. As many as 15 people were killed in another suicide attack on a Shia procession in Peshawar last Saturday.

    There were also two rocket attacks on Shia mosques in the north-west, leading to violence and unrest in the region. Unidentified officials in the Interior Ministry blamed pro-Taliban militants for the attacks, saying security forces were bracing themselves for reprisal attacks following military raids on al-Qaeda and Taliban hideouts in the tribal areas on the Afghan border.

    But Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao said that a link could not be made yet in any of the attacks, including the hotel blast.

    "We still haven't been able to determine as to who has done it, which group has done it," Mr. Sherpao told the Associated Press on Thursday.

    Minister for Information and Broadcasting Mohammed Ali Durrani told the BBC that the suicide bombers were targeting Pakistan for its role on the war on terror.

    On Thursday, two government officials and a security guard were killed when their vehicle was ambushed by suspected militants in North Waziristan. Against a backdrop of relentless violence, Interior Ministry officials of Pakistan and British anti-terrorism officials met on Thursday to discuss the setting up of a mechanism for cooperation and information sharing to combat terror and organised crime.