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Thursday, October 14, 1999 Published at 23:57 GMT 00:57 UK


World: South Asia

'Plot to kill' coup leader

The army took over Karachi airport after Gen Musharraf was fired

The Pakistani army has said it had discovered a plot to kill its leader, General Pervez Musharraf, shortly before the coup on Tuesday.

Pakistan in crisis
Military spokesman Brigadier Rashid Qureshi said the army had uncovered the conspiracy to kill the general while he was on board an aircraft returning from Sri Lanka.

General Musharraf was sacked from his post by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif while he was still airborne.

The BBC's Islamabad correspondent Owen Bennett-Jones says the government apparently attempted to divert General Musharraf's plane from its intended destination of Karachi to the rural airport of Nawabshah.


The BBC's Owen Bennett-Jones: "The military said there was a plan to destroy the aircraft carrying the general"
When that attempt failed, the control tower at Karachi airport refused permission for the Pakistan International Airlines flight to land and civil aviation vehicles were used to block the runway.

Sources have told the BBC that the military became aware of what was happening and rushed to Karachi airport and allowed the plane to land.

When it did so, it had just six or seven minutes of fuel left on board.

Brigadier Qureshi gave his interpretation of events, saying there was a plan to destroy the aircraft on which General Musharraf - and some 238 other passengers - were travelling.

Reports have said a top police official has been arrested for involvement in the alleged plot to "physically eliminate" General Musharraf.

The AFP news agency said Rana Maqbool, inspector-general of police in southern Sindh province, was picked up by paramilitary troops from his official residence in Karachi.



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