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Al-Qaida was Behind Assassination Attempts, says Pakistani President - 2004-03-15

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf says a Libyan member of the al-Qaida terror network was behind two attempts on his life in December.

Speaking to a gathering of tribal leaders in the border town of Peshawar on Monday, President Musharraf said a Libyan terrorist hired Pakistani militants for the two failed assassination bids.

In the first attempt, a remote control bomb failed to detonate as President Musharraf's motorcade passed by in Rawalipindi, the twin city to the capital Islamabad.

Ten days later, two suicide bombers tried to kill the president by ramming his car with explosive-laden vehicles.

Mr. Musharraf says the Libyan man gave as much as $35,000 to a Pakistani, who recruited Islamic extremists opposed to Pakistan's alliance with the United States in the war on terrorism.

Without giving further details, the president said more information will be released soon and the suspects will be shown on television.

Pakistan has been conducting operations in its border regions where suspected fugitive members of al-Qaida and Afghan militants are believed to be hiding.

Pakistani officials are set to discuss those operations with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell when he visits the country on Wednesday, as Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan explains.

"Cooperation has been taking place amongst the allies in the war against terrorism, that includes cooperation between Pakistan and the United States, and there we have to review a few things," he said.

President Musharraf added Monday that as many as 600 suspected terrorist are still said to be at large in the country's tribal area, bordering Afghanistan.