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Musharraf assassinators convicted
Updated: 2004-12-25 11:28

A Pakistani military court has sentenced one soldier to death and another to 10 years' hard labour in jail for involvement in an assassination attempt on President Pervez Musharraf last year, a military spokesman told AFP.

The two soldiers were tried for the December 14 bid to assassinate Musharraf in the nearby city of Rawalpindi, Major General Shaukat Sultan said.

"The court found them guilty of the charges," he said, adding that the verdict was announced "a few days ago."

"One was sentenced to death and the other has been given 10 years' rigorous imprisonment," the spokesman said. He gave no further details.

Musharraf narrowly escaped the assassination attempt when a powerful explosion rocked a bridge just seconds after his motorcade had passed.

Musharraf had been returning from Chaklala air base in his motorcade when the explosion went off and cracked the bridge.

No one was injured in the blast.

Five bombs had been planted on the bridge, security officials said. They said a hi-tech jamming device on his car delayed the explosions and possibly saved his life.

Musharraf survived a second attack in the same area about two weeks later on Christmas Day last year when two suicide bombers rammed explosives-laden vehicles into the presidential motorcade, killing 15 people.

General Musharraf, who is also Pakistan's army chief, has been living at his official Army House residence near military headquarters in Rawalpindi, for the past five years.

Security officials say a Libyan Al-Qaeda militant, Abu Faraj al-Libbi, is suspected of masterminding the two attempts.

Pakistan has posted a reward of 20 million rupees (US$333,333) for the arrest of al-Libbi. The United States has also offered a five-million-dollar reward for his arrest.

Musharraf, an ally in the US-led war against terrorism, has angered many extremist groups with his support for the US-led campaign to oust the Taliban regime in neighbouring Afghanistan in late 2001.

Pakistani authorities in September shot dead local Al-Qaeda lynchpin Amjad Farooqi, a co-planner in the Christmas Day attempt on Musharraf's life and the beheading of US reporter Daniel Pearl.

The authorities this year arrested Tanzanian national, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, who was convicted for the 1998 twin bombings of US embassies in East Africa, and Pakistani Al-Qaeda computer expert Naeem Noor Khan.

Three Islamic extremists were sentenced to 10 years' hard labour for an earlier assassination attempt against Musharraf in Karachi in April last year, when a remote-controlled device failed to detonate an explosives-laden van near the president's motorcade.

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