ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervaiz Musharraf, who is on trial for treason, narrowly escaped what police called an assassination attempt as a roadside bomb went off shortly before his convoy was due to pass early Thursday. The bomb was planted on Musharraf’s route from an army hospital in Rawalpindi, where he has been staying since January, to his home on the outskirts of Islamabad. It went off at around 2:00 a.m. (2100 GMT Wednesday). Nobody was injured and there have so far been no claims of responsibility.
“Four kilograms (nine pounds) of explosive device planted in a pipeline under a bridge exploded around 20 minutes before the former president was supposed to cross the spot,” senior police official Liaqat Niazi said. The blast occurred at the Faizabad interchange, which lies at the boundary of the two cities, and destroyed a footpath around two meters (seven feet) wide.
Niazi said Musharraf was then taken home via an alternative route.
Muhammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Islamabad police, confirmed the incident, saying a bomb disposal squad had cordoned off the area after the blast and searched for additional explosives. “Nobody was injured in the blast,” he said, adding Musharraf was the intended target. The Taliban have also vowed to send a squad of suicide bombers to kill him, and security threats have prevented Musharraf from appearing at all but two of his treason hearings. It was the fourth apparent attempt on the ex-general’s life, with the first three occurring while he was in office. Prior to his hospitalization in January for a heart condition, several small bombs were discovered by officials near his villa, with some unconnected to detonators.
Musharraf, who led Pakistan from 1999 to 2008, returned from self-imposed exile in March last year to fight in general elections, but was barred from taking part and has faced a series of legal cases including treason.