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2 rockets defused outside Pakistan parliament

2 rockets defused outside Pakistan parliament

Senior officials reviewed security in the Pakistani capital after two rockets primed to fire in the direction of the nation's parliament were found and defused Thursday, hours after an explosion went off near the residence of President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in a neighboring city.
A laborer found the 107 mm rockets under bushes near a construction site less than a kilometer (half a mile) from the National Assembly in Islamabad. The legislature was not in session at the time. A security official at the scene said the rockets had mobile phones attached _ apparently so they could be remotely detonated.
Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao said security agencies were still investigating and didn't know who was responsible for planting the rockets, although he believed it was an attempt to "create chaos and unrest in the country after the recent successful visit of the president to the United States."
Musharraf, a key ally in the U.S.-led war on terror, recently returned from a high-profile trip where he met with President George W. Bush and defended Pakistan's against criticism that it is failing to crack down on Taliban insurgents launching cross-border attacks into Afghanistan.
A police statement said the rockets were "not target-specific," but the security official, who requested anonymity as he wasn't authorized to speak to media, said they were pointed in the direction of the National Assembly, which also lies near government ministries, the prime minister's official residence and the president's office.
As the rockets were being defused, Musharraf was appearing live on television at a conference about earthquake reconstruction held in a convention center about two kilometers (1.3 miles) away.
Police blocked roads to the assembly for two hours.
Security officials took videos and photographs of the scene before the rockets were placed in a special bomb disposal container on a trailer, then towed away by an army jeep.
Senior police and intelligence officials later met to review security in Islamabad.
The police statement said "security has been further tightened in the capital and government agencies are fully alert to thwart any further attempt by miscreants." Extra police patrols were visible on the city's streets late Thursday.
The security scare came hours after an explosion Wednesday night in a public park in Rawalpindi, Islamabad's sister city, about two kilometers (1.3 miles) from Musharraf's army residence. Officials said it was caused by a bomb, but details were sketchy. No one was hurt in the blast.
Musharraf is concurrently army chief and president.
Islamic militants have targeted Musharraf in at least three assassination attempts, including two Rawalpindi bombings in December 2003 in which the president narrowly escaped injury but 16 others died. The attacks were linked to al-Qaida.
While there have been occasional bombings in Islamabad by Islamic militants over the years, rocket attacks are rare. Rockets are commonly used by militants in remote tribal regions near the Afghan border and by renegade tribesmen fighting security forces in the restive province of Baluchistan.


Updated : 2020-12-01 02:33 GMT+08:00