Three months after it was devastated in Pakistan's worst suicide attack this year, the luxury Marriott Hotel in Islamabad reopened on Sunday with a "fortress-like" arrangements that included a massive bomb-proof wall and state-of-the-art security gadgets.
A suicide attacker rammed a truck packed with 600 kg of explosives into the gate of the hotel on September 20, killing nearly 60 people, including the Czech envoy and two US Marines.
The massive blast sparked a fire that gutted the hotel and damaged hundreds of buildings within a radius of several kilometres.
The ceremony to mark the reopening was attended by envoys of several countries and members of the expatriate community, for whom the hotel was a favourite hangout.
"I have made this hotel a fortress," said Sadruddin Hashwani, the hotel's owner and one of Pakistan's richest industrialists.
Hashwani had vowed days after the suicide attack that he would reopen the hotel before the New Year. Over 2,000 workers toiled round the clock to restore the hotel to its former glory and the management installed a variety of security gadgets to protect the structure.
"I am grateful to my dedicated teams. Our associates who lost their lives will always be remembered," Hashwani said as he lit candles before portraits of employees killed in the attack.