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Wed 1 Oct 2008 03:30 PM

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Marriott bombing assassination attempt - Zardari

Pakistan president tells US television he and top officials had planned be there on night.

Marriott bombing assassination attempt - Zardari
ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT: Zardari (pictured) said he had planned to be at the Marriott around the time of the bombing. (AFP)

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari called the recent bombing in Islamabad's Marriott hotel an assassination attempt he and other top leaders narrowly escaped, in an interview on US television.

"All of us. All the parliament, the people, all of democracy was the target. We were all supposed to be there," Zardari told Fox News late Tuesday, when asked if he thought he was the target of the devastating Sept. 20 blast.

"I was supposed to be there with my prime minister, with my speaker, with a lot of us. Just by chance that it was changed," Zardari said.

"We were sitting in the speaker's dinner just a stone's throw away from that same place. We were in the PM house on the lawn when we heard the bang," he added.

At least 60 people died and hundreds were injured when a suicide bomber crashed an explosives-laden six-wheeler truck into the security gates of the Islamabad Marriott.

Interior ministry chief Rehman Malik told reporters that the speaker of the national assembly had arranged a dinner for Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and top military brass at the Marriott that night, but the venue was changed at the last minute to the prime minister's house.

But a spokesman for the owner of the hotel owner denied it, saying there was no government reservation on that day.

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