Pakistani general survives terror attack
KARACHI, Pakistan — Attackers with assault rifles and bombs ambushed the motorcade of Karachi’s top general Thursday, killing 10 people but missing their prime target in the latest terrorist assault in Pakistan’s volatile commercial capital.
Lt. Gen. Ahsan Saleem Hayat, his uniform spattered with blood, arrived safely at his office and was “perfectly all right,” army spokesman Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan told The Associated Press.
Militants hiding behind walls on either side of a main road peppered Hayat’s convoy with gunfire in the well-orchestrated attack, witnesses said. Six soldiers, three policemen and a bystander were killed, and at least 10 people were wounded, including Hayat’s driver and a guard.
More were saved by a police officer who hurled a bomb left at the roadside into a vacant lot, where it exploded. Another bomb found nearby, loaded with 11 pounds of explosive and rigged to a mobile phone, was defused.
Hayat “was the target and he escaped the assassination attempt,” Sultan said.
The attackers came under fire from soldiers in the convoy and fled, apparently in a Toyota van that was found abandoned in another part of Karachi, pocked with bullet holes and stained with blood on the inside.
Investigators identified no suspects and no group claimed responsibility, but suspicion immediately fell on Islamic extremists, angered by Pakistan’s efforts in support of the U.S.-led war on terror.
On Wednesday, Pakistani forces clashed with suspected al-Qaida fighters near the Afghan border, leaving 20 or more people dead, most of them militants — the latest salvo in a long-running struggle to free Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas of terrorist suspects who have migrated from Afghanistan.
The attack in Karachi, which initial investigations indicated involvement of a dozen or more people, follows at least three unsolved bombings in the city of 14 million people in the past month that triggered deadly riots by Sunni Muslims and minority Shiites.