Pakistan’s Musharraf escapes assassination

It was the fourth attempt on Pakistan’s ex-military ruler Pervez Musharraf, with the first three occurring while he was in office

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Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who is on trial for treason, narrowly escaped an assassination attempt as a bomb went off shortly before his convoy was due to pass early Thursday, Agence France-Presse reported police as saying.

The bomb was planted on Musharraf’s route from an army hospital where he has been staying since January to his home on the outskirts of Islamabad.

Nobody was injured and there have so far been no claims of responsibility.

“Four kilograms of explosive device planted in a pipeline under a bridge exploded around 20 minutes before the former president was supposed to cross the spot,” AFP quoted senior police official Liaqat Niazi as saying.

He said the former president was taken home via an alternative route.

Muhammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Islamabad police, confirmed the incident, saying a bomb disposal squad had cleared the area after the blast.

“Nobody was injured in the blast,” he said, adding Musharraf was the intended target.

Musharraf, who led Pakistan from 1999 to 2008, returned from self-imposed exile in March last year to fight in general elections but was barred from taking part and has faced a series of legal cases including treason.

It was the fourth attempt on the ex-general’s life, with the first three occurring while he was in office.

Taliban vowed to kill him

Last year, Taliban vowed to send a squad of suicide bombers to kill Musharraf, and security threats have prevented him from appearing at all but two of his treason hearings.

In a related story, the Taliban in Pakistan have not extended a month-long ceasefire but are still open to pursuing peace talks with the Islamabad government, Reuters reported a spokesman for the insurgent movement as saying Wednesday.

Shahidullah Shahid said some Taliban leaders had objected to extending the ceasefire, which lasted during the month of March.

The Pakistani Taliban and the Islamabad government are now involved in their second round of peace talks. A first round failed in February after the Taliban bombed a police bus and executed 23 men kidnapped from a government paramilitary force.

Islamabad then refused to hold further talks until the Taliban announced a ceasefire on March 1.


(With AFP and Reuters)

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