Image: Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's bullet-riddled Mercedes
AFP - Getty Images
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's black Mercedes, shown here, was struck by two bullets Wednesday in an apparent assassination attempt, officials said.
msnbc.com news services
updated 9/3/2008 9:03:59 AM ET 2008-09-03T13:03:59

Pakistan's prime minister survived an apparent assassination attempt Wednesday when at least two shots hit his limousine as he drove toward the capital, aides said.

Zahid Bashir, the premier's press secretary, said Yousuf Raza Gilani was unhurt after the "murder attempt" on the main highway leading into Islamabad.

However, other reports suggested Gilani was not in the targeted vehicle at the time of the shooting.

Interior Ministry Secretary Kamal Shah told state-run television the motorcade was on its way to the airport to pick Gilani up.

"What I was told that the vehicles were empty and they were going from Islamabad," Shah said.

Police also said Gilani was not in the motorcade at the time of the attack.

State-run Pakistan Television aired footage of Gilani's black Mercedes car with the two impact points clearly visible on the driver's window. The glass was cracked but intact.

Gilani is a senior member of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto's party. She was killed in a suicide gun and bomb attack on December 27 while campaigning for a general election.

The government said militants linked to al-Qaida killed her.

Bhutto's party went on to win the February 18 election and Gilani became prime minister of a coalition government.

Looming election
The incident adds to the tension in Pakistan at a time when its new civilian government is vowing to crack down on Islamic militants after ousting U.S. ally Pervez Musharraf from the presidency.

Bhutto's widower, Asif Ali Zardari, who now leads her party and is expected to win a presidential election on Saturday, last week moved from his home in Islamabad into the heavily guarded prime minister's house because of security fears.

It was also the second apparent assassination attempt in quick succession.

Shots were fired last week at a car carrying Lynne Tracy, the top U.S. diplomat in Pakistan's troubled northwest, as she was heading toward her office in the city of Peshawar. No one was hurt.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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