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Pakistani sleuths close in on attackers, probe 45 outfits

All those involved in suicide attack on Musharraf will be nabbed soon, Pak Govt said as it identified 45 outfits with global jihadi links.

india Updated: Dec 30, 2003 18:09 IST

Investigators probing the suicide bomb attack on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on Christmas Day are expected to make arrests soon, the chief government spokesman said on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has identified 45 religious outfits having links with international jihadi networks.

"The progress of investigations has been very positive so far," information minister Sheikh Rashid said.

Those responsible for planning the attacks are expected to be arrested soon, he said.

Rashid said the same teams assigned with the task of investigating a December 14 attack on Musharraf were also working on the latest assassination attempt.

Asked who could be behind the suicide attacks he said: "These could be domestic and international terror networks."

Musharraf escaped unhurt on Thursday when suicide bombers driving cars packed with explosives rammed the Pakistani leader's motorcade at a petrol station two kilometres from his residence in Rawalpindi.

Officials said 15 people, including the two suicide attackers, were killed and 45 injured. Another victim had died overnight. The dead include four policemen, Rawalpindi police chief Marwat Shah said.

Analysts and commentators suspect that Al-Qaeda militants and religious fanatics in Pakistan could be behind an increasingly organized effort to kill Musharraf, a key ally in the US-led war against terror.

Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat said on Friday the bombers in the latest attack had been identified by security agencies, but no further information was immediately available.

"The suicide bombers involved in the attack on Thursday have been identified," he told the upper house of parliament. "The face of one is recognisable."

He would not provide further details, saying this could hamper the inquiry. "We are also actively pursuing those who are at the back (of the people) committing these crimes."

All possible measures were being taken to safeguard the president's life, he said.

"We are not going to yield to any of these terrorist activities. This government is committed to uprooting terrorism, extremism and sectarian hatred."

Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali also told reporters on Friday that the government had "found some clues" to the suicide attack, but refused to divulge details, saying, "it is a very serious matter and the government is probing it".

Jamali said the attack would not disrupt a South Asian summit scheduled in Islamabad for January 4-6. "It will be held on schedule," he said, adding that the security system would be revamped following the twin suicide bombings.

The attack was the second on Musharraf in the military centre of Rawalpindi since December 14, when the president's motorcade missed a powerful explosion on a bridge by a matter of seconds.

It was also the third near-miss for Musharraf, who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999. He survived an attempt in Karachi in April last year when an explosive-laden car failed to explode after the remote triggering device malfunctioned.

At least five people were killed and three injured in an accidental explosion in a congested area of Rawalpindi on Saturday when workers were unloading materials used in fireworks.

Pak identifies 45 outfits with jihadi ties

Pakistan has identified 45 religious outfits having links with international jihadi networks.

Sources told the Daily Times on Friday that major groups like the Harkatul Jihad-e-Islami (HJI) and Jamiatul Mujahideen Al Alami have not been banned yet, but warned they not only had roots in Pakistan, but also in Kashmir, Myanmar, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

HJI chief Qari Saifullah Akhtar, who reportedly lives a in some Gulf state, was allegedly former Taliban leader Mulla Umar's advisor and believed to have a direct link with the Al Qaeda.

The sources also said Harkatul Mujahideen Al Alami, which was accused of an attack on President Pervez Musharraf last year in Karachi and the suicide attacks on French engineers, was formed by the HJI, Harkatul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) and Jamiatul Mujahideen Al Alami.

They said that law-enforcement agencies were investigating the Hizbul Mujahideen and Al Badr Mujahideen's links with Al Qaeda, the Taliban and Gulbaddin Hikmatyar's Hizb-e-Islami.

There were reports that the two organisations' former Mujahideen were recruiting Jihadis for the Taliban and the Hizb-e-Islami from the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Balochistan.

Jamiatul Ansar, Jamaatul Furqan and Tehrik-e-Khudamul Islam, which were recently banned, also allegedly had links with the Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

The sources said some terrorist groups were working underground and they might have been exploited by bigger jihadi and terrorist organisations like the Al Badr, the Jhangvi Tigers and Al Farooq.

Law enforcement agencies were also probing sectarian organisations' links with international terrorist organisations like Jamiat-e-Ghuraba-e-Ahle Hadith. From its seminary Jamia Abu Bakar in Karachi.

First Published: Dec 30, 2003 12:00 IST