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Monday, 19 August, 2002, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
Charges for US consulate 'attackers'
The scene after the bomb blast in Karachi
The bomb outside the US consulate killed 12 people
An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan has decided to press charges against four people for an attack on the US consulate in Karachi, as well as for plotting to assassinate Pakistan's president.

"These men will be charged on Tuesday," defence lawyer Khwaja Naveed told journalists at the end of hearings on Monday.

In the alleged plot to kill President Pervez Musharraf, the detonator is said to have failed to explode the car-bomb reported to have been placed by the accused.

Police say the same vehicle was later used in the blast outside the US consulate building in Karachi on 14 June which killed 12 Pakistanis.

A number of attacks on foreign and Christian targets have been carried out in Pakistan in recent months. The authorities suspect Islamic extremists to be behind these attacks.

Officials say these extremists are unhappy with the US-led war on terrorism which General Musharraf's government supports.

Court inside jail

Those to be charged on Tuesday include three alleged militants - Mohammad Ashraf, Hanif Ayub and Mohammad Imran - all from a splinter faction of the Harkat-ul Mujahideen extremist group, and Waseem Akhtar, a Pakistani paramilitary Ranger official.

President Musharraf
General Musharraf: survived Karachi 'plot'

While the three militants are being charged in both the cases, Waseem Akhtar will be charged only in connection with the alleged plot to assassinate President Musharraf.

Police say the militants confessed to plotting to blow up a vehicle on a main Karachi road as President Musharraf was passing through last April.

The court decided to proceed with the case against those already arrested while the trial of six others wanted by the police will be held separately.

Monday's court hearings were held inside the Karachi jail where the four accused have been lodged due to security reasons.

The trial proceedings against them too will be held inside a prison instead of in a courtroom.

Attacks

Earlier, the trial of four men accused of killing US journalist Daniel Pearl was also shifted to a secure prison after intelligence officials received reports of possible terror attacks.

One of the three accused militants is alleged to have said he was involved in planning an earlier suicide attack outside the Sheraton Hotel in Karachi on May 8.

Eleven French naval engineers and three Pakistanis were killed in that blast.

Officials also say that Islamic militants arrested in connection with attacks on Christian targets were planning to attack various government targets as well.

Musharraf's Pakistan

Democracy challenge

Militant threat

Background

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

BBC WORLD SERVICE
See also:

09 Jul 02 | South Asia
29 Jun 02 | South Asia
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13 Jan 02 | South Asia
10 Jul 02 | South Asia
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