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Musharraf eludes assassination bid

Security forces are investigating the blast, but said it was too early to say who was behind the attack.
Security forces are investigating the blast, but said it was too early to say who was behind the attack.

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Pervez Musharraf
Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf narrowly escaped an assassination attempt when a bomb exploded just after his motorcade had passed by.

"It was certainly a terrorist act and, certainly, it was me who was targeted," the military leader told reporters shortly after the attack on Sunday.

Security forces are investigating the blast, which occurred about 7 p.m. (1300 GMT) in Rawalpindi while Musharraf was en route to his residence there.

No one was injured in the blast that hit a bridge "just half a minute or one minute" after his motorcade passed it, Musharraf said.

Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan, an army spokesman, said the "severe" blast occurred as the presidential convoy passed by, but no vehicles were damaged.

Musharraf was en route to the official army chief's residence in Rawalpindi at the time and reached home safely, Sultan said.

"All appropriate action is being taken to ensure the safety of the president," he said.

Officials said it was too early to say who was behind the attack, but the most likely suspects are radical hardliners opposed to Musharraf's policy on Afghanistan, his crackdown on extremism and his efforts to reform Islamic schools, The Associated Press reported.

Musharraf
Musharraf: "We have to fight all these people with all our might."

Musharraf, who took power in a 1999 bloodless military coup, has survived at least two previous attempts on his life.

In April 2002, a similar attack in the port city of Karachi failed when a vehicle laden with explosives failed to detonate.

The Pakistani leader incensed Pakistani Islamic militant when he sided with the United States in its war against the al Qaeda terrorist network and its Taliban allies in Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001.

He banned several militant, religious and separatist groups in Pakistan and the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir and has arrested hundreds of members.

Militants have been convicted for a previous attempt on the president's life.

"I have been saying that the greatest danger to our nation is not external, it is internal," Musharraf said.

"It comes from religious and sectarian extremists, and this is a typical example of that," he said. "We have to fight all these people with all our might."


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