Karachi, Sept 09: Police have arrested five Islamic militants, including a naval employee, for plotting to kill President General Pervez Musharraf at a public ceremony last April, investigators said on Monday.
The suspects belong to the same outlawed organisation as three other men accused in a separate assassination plot, who also are on trial for the bombing of the US Consulate in Karachi.
The two plots were planned for two consecutive days in April, said the investigators on condition of anonymity.
The five recently arrested men were suspected of smuggling assault rifles and hand grenades to an April 27 ceremony to lay the foundation stone for the Lyari Expressway outside a naval base in Karachi. One investigator called it a suicide mission.
The plan went awry when Musharraf showed up three hours late for the event, said the investigators.
Four of the men were arrested in the western Karachi district of suburb Orangi Town. The group had recruited a man who worked for the fire brigade at a naval dockyard.
In the second case, three militants have been arraigned for planning to kill Musharraf with a car bomb on April 26. When that plan was aborted, the same explosives-packed vehicle was detonated outside the US consulate on June 14, killing 12 Pakistanis.
A fourth man, a member of the paramilitary Pakistan Rangers, also has been charged in the car bomb plot, although he apparently was not involved in the consulate bombing.
Both groups were said to belong to Harkat-ul-Mujahidin Al-Almi, an offshoot of one of the main organizations fighting Indian rule in the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir.
In a separate development, the judge in the consulate bombing trial adjourned Monday's hearing after just 15 minutes so that the chief prosecutor of the region could be brought into the case.
Prosecutors asked judge Ale Maqbool Rizvi for time to allow Raja Qureshi, chief prosecutor of Sindh province, to be registered as head of the prosecution team. The trial was due to reconvene next Saturday.
The case, conducted inside the maximum security Karachi prison, has met repeated delays over procedural issues, and hearings were canceled twice because of the judge's concern for his security.
Qureshi was the chief prosecutor in the trial of the kidnappers of slain Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl which ended in July in the conviction of four men. One, British-born militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, was condemned to death and three Pakistanis were given life sentences.