Accessibility links

Musharraf Vows to Continue Fight  Against Terrorism - 2003-12-25

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf says he will continue his government's fight against terrorism, despite a failed assassination attempt by two suicide bombers Thursday. The attack claimed at least 14 lives and injured at least 45.

President Musharraf says it is too early to tell who is behind this latest attempt on his life, but that he suspects those opposed to his war against religious militancy in Pakistan.

In remarks just hours after the incident, he said the attackers are cowards who have betrayed their country and their faith. "They certainly are not Muslims. They may be calling themselves Muslims, but I think they are the enemies of Islam," he said.

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

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

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

While police were able to stop the van from intercepting the motorcade, a second vehicle armed with explosives attacked, as President Musharraf explains.

"We went faster, but in front of us there was another bomb which blasted. Again, nothing happened to us, and we went through the debris, and we stopped, safe and secure," he said.

President Musharraf expressed regret for the security officers and bystanders killed in the attack, promising government compensation for their families.

The incident follows a Dec. 14 attempt on President Musharraf, in which a remote-control bomb placed just 500 meters from the site of Thursday's attack failed to explode.

But the president said the attacks should not derail plans for a regional leaders' summit January 4 in Islamabad.

He says the bombings were specifically targeted against him and pose no threat to other heads of state planning to attend.

Leaders scheduled to participate in the summit include the prime minister of Pakistan's rival neighbor India, whose presence is seen as a major-breakthrough in relations between the two nuclear powers.