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UN worker among dead in Peshawar explosion -

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PETER CAVE: The United Nations Secretary General has strongly condemned an attack on a luxury hotel
in Pakistan which killed 11 people including an employee of the UN's refugee agency.

About 70 people were injured when gunmen shot their way past security guards and drove a small
truck packed with explosives through the gates of the Pearl Continental Hotel in Peshawar.

It's the latest in a string of attacks in Pakistan, and while no one has claimed responsibility,
there's little doubt that the Taliban is extracting revenge for the military's punishing offensive
in three north-west districts.

Meredith Griffiths prepared this report.

(Sound of ambulances)

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: The sight of ambulances streaming towards markets, cinemas and cafes is
becoming all too common in Peshawar.

In the past month there have been seven deadly explosions in the city, which is the capital of the
North West Frontier province, bordering Afghanistan.

Last night's explosion was by far the largest, targeting the city's most prominent hotel, the Pearl
Continental.

There's a heavy security perimeter around the building but at about 10:00pm local time, at least
two gunmen managed to drive a pick-up truck into the hotel's car park before blowing it up.

Mian Iftikhar Hussain is the province's Information Minister.

MIAN IFTIKHAR HUSSAIN (translated): First they targeted the security and paralysed them. After that
the vehicle entered the hotel. The attack was very well organised.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Local radio reporter Rifatullah Orakzai says people heard the blast up to 20
kilometres away.

He was at the scene within minutes.

RIFATULLAH ORAKZAI: It was a very huge blast. One portion of the building was completely damaged.
And in the parking area, where I think more than 20 vehicles were parked there, there is a big
crater of more than dozens of feet.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: The luxury hotel is popular with local dignitaries and foreign visitors, and
last night 25 United Nations employees were staying there.

The UN has confirmed one of them, Aleksandar Vorkapic, is among the dead.

The Serbian national worked for the UN's refugee agency. He was part of an emergency team recently
deployed to Pakistan to assist the estimated two-million people displaced from their homes by
military offensives in the country's north-west.

At a news conference, Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani expressed his anger.

YOUSUF RAZA GILANI: I condemn that incident, and it is shameful for the terrorists and extremists.
I totally condemn and all our colleagues they condemn that incident.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: No-one has claimed responsibility for the explosion yet, but international
relations lecturer, Dr Christopher Snedden from Deakin University, says he's sure it was carried
about by members of the Taliban from the areas currently under attack by Pakistani troops.

CHRISTOPHER SNEDDEN: The Taliban are trying to make a statement to the military that while you may
have defeated us in the short-term in Diehr (phoenetic) and Swat and places like that, we have not
yet been fully defeated, and we are going to make it difficult for you wherever we can.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Violence has also flared in the cities of Karachi and Lahore in recent weeks
and Dr Snedden says military actions alone won't stop the Taliban.

CHRISTOPHER SNEDDEN: One thing I think they can do is try and collect better intelligence. They
need to somehow infiltrate the Taliban and collect some of that intelligence, better security
around some of these buildings - although it's not so difficult in Peshawar but in places like
Islamabad and Lahore, but particularly Islamabad, where there's a large foreign presence, it would
be impossible to gaurd everything - and thirdly, somehow they've got to try and bring these folk -
these Taliban - in from the cold, if you like.

And that can be done - they've used the carrot, they've used the stick, and they also perhaps need
to use what I call "the cup of tea" - in other words, start talking to some of these people and try
and drive some wedges between them.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Dr Snedden says if the Pakistani Government wants peace, it also needs to
improve conditions in the poorer parts of the country where people's lives are controlled by strict
feudal leaders.

CHRISTOPHER SNEDDEN: It is capable of doing it but it requires a reallocation of resources. Now a
lot of the state budget in Pakistan goes on Pakistan army. If they could improve relations with
India and if they could also improve relations with Afghanistan then presumably there would be less
of a need to have such a large military.

Some of those resources, perhaps a lot of those resources, could be reallocated to national
development and poverty alleviation and education and health and those sort of things but the elite
at this stage, certainly the military aspect of the elite is not thinking along those lines.

PETER CAVE: Dr Christopher Snedden from Deakin University ending that report from Meredith
Griffiths.