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Pakistan's President Escapes Another Assassination Attempt - 2003-12-25

Two car bombs exploded in a failed assassination attempt on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf Thursday, killing at least 14 people, including the bombers, and injuring more than 40. This is the second attack against President Musharraf in less than two weeks.

The attack occurred in Rawalpindi, next to the capital Islamabad, as the president's motorcade passed along a street closed to other traffic.

Witness Nasir Siddiqi says he saw one of the two attacking vehicles speed out of the gas station where he was fueling his car as the presidential motorcade passed by.

"All of a sudden there was a white Suzuki van. … He rushed in - we just heard a few police officers shouting 'Kay roko! Roko! Stop them!' -- and there was a huge blast," he said.

Army spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan Khan says a second vehicle, also armed with a bomb, struck the procession, but that neither attacker hit the president's car.

T"he last vehicle of the presidential convoy, which had the police escort, got hit and got damaged," he announced. "The police escort inside got injured, but the president and his entire staff is absolutely safe."

In addition to killing and injuring several passersby, the attack also damaged surrounding buildings.

It was the second attempt on Mr. Musharraf's life in less than two weeks. On December 14, he escaped harm when a remote-control bomb exploded moments after his motorcade crossed a bridge, just 500 meters from the site of Thursday's attack.

Ruling party Senator Mushahid Hussein says the two attacks could hurt plans for a regional leaders' summit scheduled to start January 4 in Islamabad.

"The heads of government who are planning to come to Pakistan to attend the … summit from the neighboring countries … might be tempted to have second thoughts," he said.

Senator Hussein says many groups opposed to Pakistan's cooperation with the United States against the al-Qaida terror network would want Mr. Musharraf dead.

Police and military officials have already launched an investigation into the incident.