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Narrow escape for Pak leadership

world Updated: Sep 22, 2008 19:00 IST

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardaricould have been the main target of the Marriott suicide bomber as it has emerged now that they were to have dinner at the hotel when it was attacked, but the venue was changed at the last moment.

"National Assembly Speaker had arranged a dinner for the entire leadership -- President, Prime Minister, Armed Forces chiefs -- at the Marriott on Saturday night," Interior Ministry spokesman Rehman Malik told reporters in Islamabad on Monday.

"The President and the Prime Minister changed the venue to the PM's house. The function was not held," Malik said, adding that is how "the whole leadership was saved".

A suicide bomber rammed a truck laden with over 600-kg of explosives into the outer security gate of the luxury hotel killing 53 people, including four foreigners among them the Czech Ambassador and two US marines.

The hotel is close to Parliament, where Zardari delivered his first address after taking over as President on Saturday, and the official residence of Gilani.