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Friday, 20 September, 2002, 12:54 GMT 13:54 UK
US says Musharraf plot foiled
Karachi police bring suspects to court
Police say the suspects were stockpiling arms
The US and Pakistan appear at odds over an alleged attempt on the life of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf this week.


President Musharraf's intelligence service thwarted a bombing attempt on him yesterday

Richard Armitage
US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told a joint Congressional committee on Thursday that Pakistan's intelligence services had uncovered a plot to blow up the president on Wednesday.

Hours earlier both President Musharraf and his interior minister had denied that seven men arrested on Tuesday had been plotting to attack the general while he attended a defence exhibition in Karachi.

The conspiracy reportedly unfolded hours before security services arrested the men, including the alleged "mastermind" behind two deadly suicide bombings in the southern port city.

On Friday, the seven suspects were produced in court in Karachi and charged with possession of illegal arms, ammunition and explosives.

Weapons found

Mr Armitage told the Congressional committee on intelligence: "President Musharraf's intelligence service thwarted a bombing attempt on him yesterday."

Sharib Ahmad
Sharib Ahmad: Bomb "mastermind"
Several men, including a paramilitary officer detained weeks ago, have already been charged with plotting to kill the president during an earlier visit to the city in April.

The confusion began after Pakistan's security agencies arrested seven alleged members of an Islamic extremist group late on Tuesday.

During the raid the agencies found sophisticated weapons, including grenades, rockets and an anti-tank rifle.

One of those arrested, Sharib Ahmad, was said to have been the mastermind behind the 8 May suicide attack on a navy bus in which 14 people, amongst them 11 French technicians, were killed.

He is also thought to have been the brains behind the bomb attack on the US Karachi consulate a month later, in which 12 Pakistanis were killed.

'No threat'

Local reports said the militants planned to kill General Musharraf while he was visiting a defence exhibition by firing rockets at him.

Pervez Musharraf
Musharraf: No threat to my life
But President Musharraf told Islamabad journalists on Thursday there was no such plot against him.

"There is no threat to my life," Reuters news agency quoted him as saying. "God is great. He saves all."

The denial was repeated by Pakistani military spokesman Rashid Qureshi in an interview with the BBC on Friday.

Meanwhile, the magistrate's court in Karachi gave police until 2 October to question the seven men.

Their arrest came days after the Pakistani authorities announced a major breakthrough in the US-led war on terror, with the capture of a top al-Qaeda suspect, Ramzi Binalshibh, and 11 others in Karachi.

Musharraf's Pakistan

Democracy challenge

Militant threat

Background

TALKING POINT

FROM THE ARCHIVES

BBC WORLD SERVICE
See also:

14 Sep 02 | South Asia
16 Sep 02 | South Asia
19 Aug 02 | South Asia
10 Jul 02 | South Asia
14 Jun 02 | South Asia
08 May 02 | South Asia
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