Pakistani authorities on Sunday released dramatic security camera footage of the suicide attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad that depicted the final minutes before a truck packed with 600 kg of explosives blew up, causing widespread destruction.
Fifty-three people, including Czech ambassador Ivo Zdarek, were killed and 266 others injured in the attack, which was described by Interior Minister Rehman Malik as the biggest bombing in the country's history.
Malik said the attacker rammed his truck into barriers at the hotel's main gate after the guards tried to stop him. An ambulance sent to attend to a sick guest at the hotel was unable to enter the compound as its path was blocked by the truck, he said.
At the same time, sniffer dogs deployed at the hotel's gate detected the presence of explosives in the truck and began barking. The guards then warned people within and outside the hotel to take cover or leave the spot, Malik said.
The footage captured by the Marriott's close-circuit security cameras showed guards running for cover as the six-wheeled truck, packed with explosives hidden under construction material, rammed into a retractable barricade and a metal barrier at the hotel's gate a little before 8 pm.
As the guards came back to inspect the truck, the attacker blew himself up in the cabin. This sparked a fire but the explosives did not detonate.
The guards scattered again but returned as smoke continued to billow out of the front of truck. The flames spread rapidly after the truck's engine exploded. A guard valiantly tried to put out the fire in the truck with an extinguisher while others prevented people from entering the hotel.
Flames kept shooting out of the truck for about three to four minutes before the explosives blew up, creating an enormous crater with a depth of 24 feet and a diameter of 59 feet.
Malik lauded the security guards for their bravery, saying they had played a key role in preventing the attacker from entering the hotel complex. "The suicide bomber wanted to go into the lobby. He could have driven into the lobby with his six-wheeled truck if he had got past the barriers and that could have been disastrous," he said.
Besides sparking a fire that gutted the hotel, the blast also damaged several nearby buildings, including the Sindh House, Balochistan House, the Evacuee Property Trust Board building that houses the offices of numerous IT firms and the headquarters of state-run broadcaster PTV.
The powerful explosion also damaged houses inside the Ministers Colony and buildings in the Pakistan Secretariat, which houses key ministries, though both complexes are located over a kilometre from the Marriott.