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Last Updated:  Monday, 10 March, 2003, 13:52 GMT
Karachi bomb suspects in court
Two men accused of masterminding a suicide bomb attack in Karachi have appeared before an anti-terrorism court.

Asif Zaheer and Rizwan Bashir were produced at the heavily guarded court in Karachi Central Jail.

The two men are accused of planning a car bomb attack last year outside the Sheraton hotel in which 14 people, 11 of them French engineers, were killed.

The provincial authorities had earlier ordered that the trial be moved to the jail on security grounds.

Extremist group

The prison authorities had also asked the government to change the venue of the trial because of potential dangers involved in presenting the suspects before an ordinary court in the city.

The two men were arrested in December and January respectively and are believed to belong to an extremist Islamist group.

Altogether, five people have been held in connection with the bombing and police are hoping for further arrests.

Both the accused are believed to be members of an off-shoot of the radical Islamist group, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen.

Their trial has been delayed several times on various "technical" and procedural grounds.


The French engineers were naval technicians and were helping the Pakistani navy to build its second Agosta 90-B submarine.

The court will resume on Wednesday.

Last June, 12 people died in an attack on the US consulate in the city and in February two policemen were killed in a gun attack outside the consulate.

In December three people were killed in an attack at the Macedonian consulate.

The BBC's Paul Anderson
"Police chiefs said their officers were the targets"

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