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Last Updated: Monday, 14 April, 2003, 09:02 GMT 10:02 UK
Death for Karachi bombers
A Pakistani court has convicted four men over last year's car bomb attack outside the US consulate in Karachi, sentencing two of them to death.

Mohammed Hanif (L) and Mohammed Imran (R) arriving at the anti-terrorist court last year
Group leaders Hanif and Imran have been sentenced to death
A special anti-terrorism court in the city found the men guilty of masterminding the bombing last June, in which 12 Pakistanis were killed.

A fifth man was acquitted.

The accused were all members of a radical offshoot of the Harkat ul-Mujahideen militant group.

"The case against four of the men has been proven and two are awarded the death sentence," Judge Ahle Maqbool Rizvi announced in the heavily-guarded courtroom inside Karachi's central jail.

The judge sentenced the group's leaders, Mohammed Imran and Mohammed Hanif, to death by hanging, saying they had masterminded the attack.

Mohammed Sharib and Mufti Zubair were sentenced to life for their role in the bombing, while Mohammed Ashraf was acquitted for lack of evidence.

Lawyers for the convicted men said they would appeal against the verdict.

"I am not satisfied with the judgement and I will challenge it tomorrow," defence lawyer Abdul Waheed Khan told journalists.

'Infidels united'

The guilty men were defiant after the verdict.

Lawyer Abdul Waheed Khan, defendent of Mohammad Imran
Defence lawyer Mr Khan said they would appeal
"This death sentence is a blessing for me, although our deaths have been planned by the government to please America," Imran said.

During their trial, which began in full in November, the five pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, attempted murder, terrorism and use of explosives.

On 14 June 2002, a Suzuki pick-up packed with explosives was rammed into the outer wall of the consulate, killing the driver and 11 Pakistanis as well as injuring at least 20 others.

It was one of a series of attacks on Western targets following Pakistan's decision to join the US-led war on Afghanistan in 2001.

Several radical groups in Pakistan opposed the move, which they warned would backfire on President Pervez Musharraf's administration.

'Attack on president'

The al-Almi faction, which Imran and Hanif are said to have led, was formed in Afghanistan during Taleban rule after the US and Pakistan banned the pro-Kashmiri Harkat ul-Mujahideen.

All infidels of the world are united under the banner of America to eliminate Muslims
Mohammed Hanif
It is believed to be an extremist Islamic group sympathetic towards al-Qaeda.

Pakistani authorities say its members have been involved in most of the terrorist activities in the country in the last couple of years, mainly in retaliation against US led military action in Afghanistan.

Imran and Hanif are suspected of plotting to kill President Musharraf when he visited Karachi on 26 April 2002.

Police say they tried to set off a bomb in a Suzuki pick-up but it failed to detonate.

The same pick-up was then used in the consulate attack, police say.




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