Pakistani police arrested a group of Islamist militants plotting to kill the prime minister in a gun and suicide bomb attack at his house, officials said on Thursday. The seven men also are accused of targeting other government leaders for assassination.
Militants in Pakistan have frequently attacked government officials, security officers and political leaders as part of a campaign to destabilize the US-allied government and take over the state.
Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was killed in a gun-and-bomb attack near Islamabad in 2007.
The conspiracy against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was nearly complete, police officials said.
The suspects are accused of belonging to the Al Qaeda-linked group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Their plan included monitoring Gilani's movements and storming his private residence in the central city of Multan with guns and a suicide bomber, police investigator Waris Bharwana said.
“These terrorists were arrested in a timely fashion, and surely we have averted an attack on the prime minister,” he said. Authorities did not offer any evidence to back up their allegations.
Abid Qadri, a regional police chief, said authorities learned about the plot during an initial interrogation of the seven militants, who were arrested late Wednesday after a shootout near a village in central Pakistan.