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Gunmen Fire on Pakistani PM Motorcade


Unidentified gunmen have fired on the motorcade of Pakistan's prime minister, but officials said he was not in his vehicle at the time of the attack. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from the Pakistani capital the shooting took place on the busy highway between Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

The spokesman for Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani called the shooting an assassination attempt. Zahid Bashir told reporters that multiple sniper shots had been fired at the vehicle.
He said by the grace of God the prime minister is safe after the assassination attempt. He said two bullets had struck the vehicle.

Television footage of the prime minister's black Mercedes showed two deep chips in the bulletproof glass of the driver's side window.

But soon after the spokesman's statement, police officials and Pakistan's Interior Secretary Kamal Shah said the prime minister was not even in the vehicle at the time of the shooting.

He said police told him that the cars were heading to the airport to pick up the prime minister when the attack occurred.

The prime minister was flying back to Islamabad from Lahore. Officials say he is now safely back in the capital.

Pakistan has a long history of political assassinations. The government has blamed Taliban and al-Qaida militants for killing former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in December and for plotting several assassination attempts against former President Pervez Musharraf in recent years.

On Saturday, the country's parliament and four provincial assemblies are scheduled to elect Mr. Musharraf's successor.

Pakistan People's Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, a close ally of Prime Minister Gilani, is widely expected to win the vote and become Pakistan's next president.

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