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Police Foil Suicide Attack Against US Diplomats in Pakistan - 2002-12-15

Authorities in Pakistan say they have prevented a suicide attack against U.S. diplomats in the southern port city of Karachi.

Provincial police chief Syed Kamal Shah made the announcement at a news conference in Karachi. He says police have arrested three Islamic militants with a car packed with 10 kilograms of explosives who were preparing to target two U.S. diplomats in Karachi. Mr. Shah says the men have confessed to the plan.

He says the militants wanted to ram their explosives-laden vehicle into the diplomats' passing car.

The arrests led authorities to a warehouse in the east of Karachi, where the militants had kept 250 sacks of explosives.

Police say the detainees are members of an Islamic organization called Harkat-e-Jihad Islami and received training in neighboring Afghanistan.

Pakistani officials say there is no immediate evidence to link the militants with al-Qaida terrorist network. One of the suspects is said to be involved in a suicide attack in Karachi last May that killed 11 French engineers and three Pakistani nationals.

In another attack in June this year, suspected militants set off a car bomb outside the American consulate in Karachi. That bombing killed 12 Pakistanis.

Sunday's arrests come on the eve of an official visit to Pakistan by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca.

Pakistan is closely cooperating in the anti-terrorism efforts in neighboring Afghanistan. This policy has outraged Islamic militants at home, who have threatened to target American and other Western interests in Pakistan.