x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Musharraf assassination attempt thwarted

Police defuse car bomb parked near house of former leader, who has survived several previous assassination attempts.

Pakistani security officials search a vehicle, found packed with explosives, after its seizure by police outside a villa owned by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in the outskirts of Islamabad.
Pakistani security officials search a vehicle, found packed with explosives, after its seizure by police outside a villa owned by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in the outskirts of Islamabad.

ISLAMABAD // Pakistani police defused a car bomb near the house of the former military ruler Pervez Musharraf yesterday, the same day he appeared in court over the murder of the former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.

The explosive-laden vehicle was found parked about 150 metres from the main gate of Mr Musharraf's house on the capital's outskirts, police said. The former military strongman is being held under house arrest in connection with a case involving his decision to fire senior judges while in power.

Police were investigating how the vehicle was able to approach Mr Musharraf's house.

The Taliban have threatened to kill Mr Musharraf, and suspected militants tried to assassinate him several times when he was in power betwen 1999 and 2008.

Mr Musharraf returned to Pakistan last month after four years in self-imposed exile to make a political comeback but has suffered several setbacks.

He appeared in an anti-terrorism court yesterday in Rawalpindi where he was accused of conspiracy to murder Bhutto, who died in a gun and suicide bomb attack in December 2007. It is one of three cases registered against him.

His arrest and disqualification from contesting elections on May 11 have been a humiliating blow for the former ruler of Pakistan.

Despite a heavy police and paramilitary presence, scuffles broke out between lawyers and Mr Musharraf's supporters, who threw stones and beat each other with sticks outside the court building.

About 150 lawyers shouted: "Dog, dog, Musharraf dog", while two dozen supporters chanted "Long live Musharraf".

"Today it was [a] routine hearing of [the] Benazir murder case and General Musharraf appeared for the first time in this case," said his lawyer, Salman Safdar.

Mr Musharraf spent about 15 minutes in court and then another 15 minutes with his lawyer, before being driven back to his home.

Nobody has been convicted or jailed for Bhutto's assassination on December 27, 2007, in Rawalpindi.

* Associated Press with additional reporting by Agence France-Presse