Pakistan Bombing Survivor "Cheated Death"

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elizabeth palmer meets survivor of the islamabad, pakistan marriott bombing
CBS

CBS News confirms that two U.S. Navymen and an Air Force officer died in the Marriott hotel bombing - and 16 other U.S. military personnel, on what's described as a sensitive mission, were wounded.

It's hard to believe that anyone walked out of the front of the hotel alive. And yet John Armstrong, an aid worker from upstate New York, did, CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports.

"I was standing out in front of the lobby outside, just talking with, visiting with the doorman - and there was another young man out there," Armstrong said.

They all saw the truck - a huge bomb on wheels - try to ram the hotel security barrier.

"I didn't know where to go. I didn't know if I should go out on the street or walk as far away as I could get, or what should I do," Armstrong said.

He and the hotel guards then saw the suicide bomber detonate a grenade in the cab.

"Last time I looked over at the truck, they were actually over there with a fire extinguisher trying to put it out," Armstrong said.

Then what happened?

"I was in the lobby, and then there was just this huge shockwave - and I don't know if I was knocked unconscious or how long I laid there," Armstrong said.

Minutes later he came to and staggered, like other dazed and bloodied survivors, into the night.

Two days later, he's still stunned.

"The nurse at the embassy told me I cheated death. I don't understand it," Armstrong said.

And still no one knows who carried out this attack - or why.

  • Elizabeth Palmer
    Elizabeth Palmer

    Elizabeth Palmer has been a CBS News correspondent since August 2000. She has been based in London since late 2003, after having been based in Moscow (2000-03). Palmer reports primarily for the "CBS Evening News."