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Last Updated: Friday, 26 December, 2003, 11:42 GMT
Investigators 'identify bombers'
President Pervez Musharraf (archive picture)
Musharraf: Targeted twice this month
Two suicide bombers involved in a failed attempt to kill Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf have been identified, officials say.

Mr Musharraf narrowly escaped when two huge bombs went off in the city of Rawalpindi, just minutes after his motorcade passed by.

At least 15 people, including the bombers, were killed and 46 injured.

The president blamed Islamic militants for the attack and has vowed to "cleanse the country of extremists".

On Friday, the country's Interior Minister, Faisal Saleh, said the bombers had been identified but that no other information was available.

The minister told the senate that he would not disclose the details for security reasons, but he said the president was targeted because of his pragmatic stance in the fight against terrorism.

We are fighting a war against terrorism
Pervez Musharraf

Members of parliament deputies condemned Thursday's attack as a cowardly, heinous crime and a conspiracy against Pakistan.

Parliament met for the first time since Mr Musharraf agreed to step down as military head next year, as part of a deal with hardline Islamists to end a parliamentary stand-off.

He will also give up some of the powers he assumed after his bloodless coup in 1999.

Under the agreement, Mr Musharraf remains as president but will have to seek Supreme Court approval if he wants to sack the government.

Blaming 'terrorism'

In a TV interview just hours after the attack, Mr Musharraf said he was now even more determined to fight terrorism in Pakistan.

It was the second attempt on his life in 11 days.

Pakistani soldiers remove a damaged car (top) at the site of the attempted suicide bomb attack
Soldiers immediately sealed off the site of the attack
Last week, the Pakistani leader was unscathed when a bomb blew up a bridge seconds after his convoy had crossed it in Rawalpindi, just outside the capital, Islamabad.

The BBC's Paul Anderson in Islamabad says militants, who were blamed for last week's attack, are angry at Mr Musharraf's support for the United States in its fight against al-Qaeda and the Taleban.

Several months ago, the number two in the al-Qaeda network, Ayman al-Zahwari, put out a videotape urging Pakistanis to overthrow Mr Musharraf.

"We are fighting a war against terrorism," General Musharraf told state television.

Looking calm and composed, he blamed "extremists and terrorists who want damage the country, [and] defame the religion".

"We have to face them and we will not lose courage," he said.

An army spokesman in Pakistan has meanwhile denied that lax security was to blame attack on President Musharraf.

But the BBC's Paul Anderson in Islamabad says some politicians believe the security system surrounding the president has completely collapsed.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Paul Anderson
"This was Musharraf's closest escape so far"




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