MULTAN, Pakistan — Police arrested a group of Islamist militants plotting to kill the prime minister in a gun and suicide bomb attack at his house, officials said yesterday. The seven men also are accused of targeting other government leaders for assassination.
Militants in Pakistan have frequently attacked government officials, security officers, and political leaders as part of a campaign to destabilize the US-allied government and take over the state. Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was killed in a gun-and-bomb attack near Islamabad in 2007.
The conspiracy against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was nearly complete, police officials said.
The suspects are accused of belonging to the Al Qaeda-linked group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Their plan included monitoring Gilani’s movements and storming his private residence in the central city of Multan with guns and a suicide bomber, police investigator Waris Bharwana said.
Abid Qadri, a regional police chief, said authorities learned about the plot during an initial interrogation of the seven militants, who were arrested late Wednesday after a shoot-out near a village in central Pakistan.
The militants opened fire when police tried to pull their car over for a routine check, Qadri said. Nobody was wounded in the shooting, but two men escaped, he said.