Exposion scene (Video courtesy of Express News and Geo News)
Peshawar, BBC -- A huge explosion has killed at least 11 people and injured dozens more at a luxury hotel in the north-west Pakistani city of Peshawar.
Reports suggest gunmen stormed the premises of the five-star Pearl Continental just before the blast, and scenes of chaos are reported outside.
Journalists at the scene say they have seen several injured foreigners.
A series of bombs have hit cities including Peshawar since a government crackdown on Taliban militants.
Peshawar, the main city in the country's north-west, is not far from the Swat valley, where the government offensive has been concentrated.
This was the most prominent hotel in Peshawar, the BBC's Chris Morris reports.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani condemned the attack but it hardly comes as a surprise, our correspondent says.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Tuesday night's attack which, eyewitnesses told the BBC News website, could be seen up to 5km (3 miles) away.
'Shouting and running'
The blast left a large crater, according to an Associated Press journalist, and TV footage suggests part of the hotel was badly damaged.
hree men riding in a truck approached the main gate of the hotel and opened fire at security guards before driving inside, police official Liaqat Ali told AP, quoting witness accounts.
"They drove the vehicle inside the hotel gates and blew it up on reaching close to the hotel building," he added.
Ali Khan, a hotel waiter, said he had been working when the attack happened.
"I was in the Chinese restaurant when we heard firing and then a blast," he told Reuters news agency. "It was totally dark and people started shouting and running."
An injured man, Jawad Chaudhry, said he had been in his room on the ground floor when he heard gunshots, then a big bang.
"The floor under my feet shook," he said. "I thought the roof was falling on me. I ran out. I saw everybody running in panic. There was blood and pieces of glass everywhere."
Musa Khan, a BBC News website reader in Peshawar, said he was far away when the blast happened but could tell it was "huge".
"I was in the university lawn with my friends," he said. "I saw the red light from there blowing and then I heard a huge sound."
Another Peshawar reader, Imran, said window panes 5km away had been shattered while a third, Samee Uddin, reported gunshots and then a "huge cloud of smoke [which] could be seen from more than 3km away".
Pearl Continental's website describes its hotel in Peshawar as "overlooking the famous Peshawar golf course and the historic Bala Hisar Fort".
Correspondents say the hotel is popular with foreigners.
Government forces launched an offensive earlier this year to crush a Taliban-led uprising in the Swat valley aimed at enforcing Sharia law.
Taliban leaders have promised to launch revenge attacks on major Pakistani cities and claimed a bombing in Lahore last month which left at least 28 people dead.
A devastating suicide bomb attack on the Islamabad Marriott hotel last September killed at least 53 people and injured more than 266.
Fidayeen-e-Islam, a little-known Pakistani militant group, told the BBC it had carried out the attack with the aim of stopping US interference in Pakistan.
In: News, Middle East
Tags: car bomb, explosion, Pakistani, gunmen, storm, hotel, 11 people killed, Peshawar, Pakistan
Location: Peshawar, North-West Frontier, Pakistan (load item map)
Marked as: approved
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