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Pervez plot soldier executed

Islamabad, Aug. 20: A former soldier convicted of plotting to assassinate Pervez Musharraf was hanged early this morning in the central city of Multan after the Pakistan President rejected his mercy petition.

Abdul Salam Siddiqui, one of several soldiers and militants arrested after two attempts on Musharraf’s life in December 2003 in the garrison town of Rawalpindi, was sentenced to death by a military court last year.

The 35-year-old was found guilty of being involved in the first attempt on December 14 when a bomb blew up a bridge minutes after Musharraf’s car had passed over it. Eleven days later, again in Rawalpindi, suicide bombers attacked Musharraf’s motorcade barely 1.5 km from his official residence, killing some 18 people, including themselves. Musharraf, who appeared on television hours later, blamed “terrorists” for the attack.

“Salam was executed early Saturday morning in Multan’s New Central Jail and the body handed over to his father and other relatives,” chief military spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan said in the capital Islamabad. Siddiqui’s father Karim Bakhsh said his son was innocent. “He kept pleading his innocence till the last moment,” a sobbing Bakhsh told reporters after receiving his son’s body.

This was the first execution in connection with the December 14 attack for which a few “low-ranking officials” of the Pakistan Air Force are also being tried. Those arrested in connection with the Christmas Day attempt are being tried separately.

It is widely believed that pro-al Qaida elements, unhappy with Musharraf’s support to the US and his decision to ban at least six sectarian and militant outfits in January 2002, were involved in the two attempts.

Imtiaz Gul and agencies

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