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SLUG: 2-311215 Pakistan Explosion Update (L)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=12/25/03

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=PAKISTAN EXPLOSION UPDATE (L)

NUMBER=2-311215

BYLINE=MICHAEL KITCHEN

DATELINE=ISLAMABAD

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

INTRO: Following a failed assassination attempt by two suicide bombers Thursday, Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf says he will continue his government's fight against terrorism. V-O-A's Michael Kitchen reports from Islamabad on the attack, which claimed at least 14 lives including four police and military officials and injured at least 45.

TEXT: President Musharraf says it is too early to tell who is behind this latest attempt on his life. But he suspects the attack came from opponents of his war against religious militancy in Pakistan.

/// EST. MUSHARRAF ACT IN URDU AND FADE ///

Speaking on state television hours after the incident, he said suicide attacks are very difficult to safeguard against, adding that such actions are the work of cowards.

The attacks occurred in Rawalpindi, twin city to the capital Islamabad, as the president's motorcade passed along a street closed to other traffic.

Witness Nasir Siddiqi tells V-O-A he saw one of the two attacking vehicles speed out of the gas station where he was fueling his car, as the presidential motorcade passed by.

/// SIDDIQI ACT ///

All of a sudden there was a white Suzuki van. . He rushed in we just heard a few police officers shouting "Kay roko! Roko! Stop them!" and there was a huge blast.

/// END ACT ///

While police were able to stop the van from intercepting the motorcade, a second vehicle armed with explosives managed to hit a car carrying part of the president's police escort.

President Musharraf expressed regret at the deaths of security officers and bystanders, promising government compensation for their families.

The incident follows a Dec. 14 attempt on President Musharraf's life, in which a remote-controlled bomb, placed less than 500 meters from the site of Thursday's attack, failed to explode.

But the president criticized those who suggest these attacks could derail plans for a regional leaders' summit January 4th in Islamabad.

/// EST. MUSHARRAF ACT 2 IN URDU AND FADE ///

He says the bombings were specifically targeted against him and pose no threat to other heads of state planning to attend.

Leaders scheduled to participate in the summit include the prime minister of Pakistan's rival neighbor India, whose presence is seen as a major breakthrough in relations between the two nuclear powers. (SIGNED)

NEB/MK/FC



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