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A large bomb blast at a five-star Peshawar hotel has killed at least 11 people including foreign nationals, according to local media reports.
I was in Peshawar this past weekend and the city was clearly strained. Peshawar is the major city in the Northwest Frontier Province and a war between the military and Taliban militants is raging all around it. The surrounding areas have also absorbed over a million people who have had to flee the war raging to the north and west of Peshawar. Peshawar has been very vulnerable to a terrorist attack as the Taliban forces suffer losses in their battle with the military.
The Pearl Continental Hotel in Peshawar is much like the Marriott in Islamabad that was also a target of a bombing last year. Both hotels are owned by a popular Pakistani businessman and real estate developer. The PC in Peshawar was popular with visitors from foreign countries and there are many in the city right now from NGO's who are involved in the relief effort for the millions of refugees of war.
Last week there were reports of the American Embassy's plans for expanding their diplomatic mission in Pakistan. This report claimed that the US mission was planning to buy the Pearl Continental hotel in Peshawar as a compound for its Peshawar consulate.
The hotel was in a sensitive area which is administered by the army. The PC is not far from the residence of the top military commander in Peshawar and the city's police chief.
This bombing comes as the government is beginning to feel the heat from the anger and frustration of the millions of Pakistanis displaced by the military campaign and as opposition parties are beginning to criticize the government's decision to expand the military fight to other parts of the country.