RAWALPINDI, Pakistan — The bomb used in an assassination attempt this week against Pakistan’s president showed unusual sophistication, involving 550 pounds of explosives set up under a bridge, officials said Tuesday.
Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said the explosives were planted in five places beneath the two-lane bridge over which President Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s motorcade passed seconds before the blast happened Sunday evening.
“This was done by very expert men. Such a bomb has never been used in Pakistan before,” Ahmed told the Associated Press.
Pakistani army bomb experts estimated about 550 pounds of explosives were used in the bomb, which destroyed a section of the concrete bridge spanning a stream in Rawalpindi, an Interior Ministry official familiar with the investigation said.
Rawalpindi, where Musharraf’s residence and army headquarters are located, is 10 miles from the capital Islamabad.
The official, who declined to be named, gave no details about the type of explosive.
No one was hurt in the attack. It was at least the second assassination attempt against Musharraf since he took power in a bloodless coup in 1999.
No suspects have been identified, although Musharraf, a key ally in the U.S.-led war on terrorism, said the attack was most likely the work of the country’s religious extremists.
There have been no arrests in the bombing, but officials said a number of people were being questioned, including three police officers who were meant to be on duty at the bridge at the time of the bombing.
Police were put on alert across Pakistan after the attack, but Musharraf has kept the appearance of normality, continuing to hold meetings at his Rawalpindi office.
Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali has directed the Interior Ministry to review security procedures for VIPs, and instructed the Finance Ministry to immediately release funds to improve the efficiency of law enforcement and security agencies, the state Associated Press of Pakistan reported, without specifying the amount of funds.
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