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Musharraf Will Track Down Those Responsible for Grenade Attack - 2002-03-18

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf spoke by telephone Monday with President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell to assure them of his commitment to track down those responsible for Sunday's grenade attack. The incident, at a church in Islamabad, killed five people, including two Americans.

Among the dead were the wife and teenaged daughter of a U.S. diplomat who had been back at the post for only two months after a previous security-related evacuation of American dependents.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Pakistani President Musharraf telephoned Secretary of State Powell Monday to stress his commitment to track down those behind the attack. "We're all determined to see justice done in this matter," he said. "We also condemn this barbaric and cowardly terrorist act on civilians and extend our sympathy and condolences to families of the victims. The Pakistani authorities are making every effort to swiftly identify the perpetrators of this crime and to bring them to justice as well as to protect Americans and other foreigners who live there. We are cooperating fully with them."

In addition to those killed, at least 14 Americans were among the more than 40 people wounded in the attack, staged in a heavily-guarded area of the Pakistani capital only a few hundred meters from the U.S. embassy.

At least one young man — and possibly two — staged the grenade assault and evaded police posted nearby.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred less than two months after the kidnapping by Islamic militants in Karachi of American journalist Daniel Pearl, who was subsequently killed by his abductors.

Sunday's attack prompted the State Department to issue a new world-wide travel alert, warning U.S. citizens abroad that terrorists may be targeting less-heavily-protected sites where Americans congregate, such as places of worship, clubs and restaurants.

Spokesman Ari Fleischer said President Bush, in a five-to-ten-minute talk with Mr. Musharraf, discussed the church incident and the broader U.S. campaign against terrorism.

In Islamabad, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affair Christina Rocca met Monday with Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar and other senior officials after breaking off a visit to India upon hearing of Sunday's attack.