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‘Bomber may have links with Al Jihad’

December 28, 2003

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RAWALPINDI, Dec 27: One of the suicide bombers, who attacked the president’s convoy on Thursday, is suspected of having links with a militant organization, Al Jihad, security sources said here on Saturday.

The security sources claimed that the evidence gathered so far pointed towards the possibility that the assailant was one Muhammad Jamil, son of Muhammad Sabeel.

He was driving the white Suzuki van at the time of the attack and had tried to enter the presidential convoy from the Total filling station.

The sources said preliminary investigations have shown that he was mentally a ‘maniac’, and that his family had severed their links from him.

He was a resident of Rawalakot and was in his mid-thirties.

His vehicle, after trampling to death constable Mohammad Saddiq, hit the car carrying Military Intelligence chief Lt-Gen Nadeem Taj.

Two workers of the car dealer through whom he had purchased the van have also been taken into custody, whereas the car dealer himself has been asked to remain in touch with the police.

Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Saturday announced that the government “has been able to track down the group linked to the attack on the president.”

Local police on Saturday raided different places and picked up several people. Most of them belonged to religious groups.

Meanwhile, sub-inspector Sherzaman, who died while stopping the other car from entering the motorcade, had been released by the military officials only two days back.

He was being questioned in connection with the Dec 14 bombing, which wrecked the Leh bridge seconds after the president’s convoy had crossed it.

The sub-inspector was on duty on the president’s route on that occasion also.

At the time of Thursday’s incident, he was performing security duties near the PSO filling station. His colleagues said he was under intense stress ever since he was released by the military officials.

One of the major concerns of the security staff of the president is that the terrorists could have infiltrated their ranks.

These concerns have been raised by the precision with which the terrorists have been able to time their attacks on the presidential motorcade twice in a matter of 11 days.

“On Thursday, at the time of the incident, there were two motorcades moving simultaneously on two different routes, but the terrorists somehow managed to know which one was being used by the president,” the source said.

Several squads of elite force have reached here from the neighbouring districts to augment the security arrangements.

In a related development, the hospitals have been allowed to release the injured. The authorities had initially directed the hospitals not to release the injured as information gleaned from them could lead to important clues.