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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 December, 2003, 13:52 GMT
Arrests follow Musharraf attack
President Pervez Musharraf (archive picture)
Musharraf: Targeted twice this month
Police in Pakistan have detained dozens of people in connection with the failed attempt on the life of President Pervez Musharraf, the authorities say.

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

At least 15 people, including two suicide bombers, were killed.

Those held include employees at two petrol stations where the bombers had parked their vehicles.

A spokesman for the president confirmed that arrests had been made, but refused to specify how many.

We have entered the network of suspects and soon will get everybody
Information Minister Sheikh Ahmed Rashid
It was the second attempt on the president's life in 11 days.

Pakistan's Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed says foreigners were involved in the attack, which left 46 others injured.

"The terror network comprises both foreign and local [extremists]... They will be arrested soon," he told reporters, but gave no further details.

A day earlier, officials said the two bombers had been identified, but were not prepared to say who they were.

Blaming 'terrorism'

President Musharraf appeared on state television hours after Thursday's attack.

We are fighting a war against terrorism
Pervez Musharraf
He blamed Islamic militants for the attack and said he was now even more determined to "cleanse the country of extremists".

On 14 December, 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 the earlier attack, are angry at Mr Musharraf's support for the United States in its fight against al-Qaeda and the Taleban.

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

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

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

An army spokesman denied that lax security had been to blame for the latest attack.

But our correspondent says some politicians believe the security system surrounding the president has completely collapsed.


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