Accessibility links

Karachi Army Chief Survives Assassination Attempt - 2004-06-10

In Pakistan, the army commander in the troubled city of Karachi has escaped an assassination attempt. The attack has left at least 10 people dead, mostly soldiers. Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.

Military officials say that gunmen ambushed the motorcade of Lt. General Ahsan Saleem Hayat in a busy part of Karachi.

Witnesses say they heard intense firing, followed by a large explosion that shattered windows of nearby shops and apartments.

Pakistan army spokesman Major-General Shaukat Sultan gave VOA. details of the incident.

"As a result of the firing, fortunately the corps commander survived and he is totally unhurt," he said. "But few members of his escort, they got injured and unfortunately got killed as well."

The attack took place on a road used daily by top military and other security officials. No one has claimed responsibility. The military spokesman would not speculate on the motive and says an investigation is under way.

Karachi Mayor Niamatullah Khan has condemned the attack as a terrorist act.

"I think these incidents of terrorism are not only aimed at destroying Karachi, but also aimed at destroying Pakistan," he said. "And we hope to beef up and strengthen our intelligence networking system."

Pakistan's largest city has been rocked with deadly terrorist attacks in recent weeks and the violence has killed more than 60 people. Authorities blame Islamic extremists for most of the attacks in Karachi, the commercial capital of Pakistan.

Islamic militants linked to the al-Qaida terror network are also blamed for two attempts to assassinate president and army chief General Pervez Musharraf in the garrison town of Rawalpindi in December.

Pakistan is a key U.S. ally in the war on terrorism, a policy fiercely opposed by religious extremists in the country. The violence in Karachi coincides with fighting between the military and al-Qaida-linked militants near the border with Afghanistan.

The fighting in the tribal region began Wednesday and officials say at least 20 suspected terrorists have been killed, some of them foreigners. Locals say more than a dozen government soldiers have also been killed.