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Pakistan's Musharraf survives assassination bomb attempt

Posted: 02 Apr 2014 10:18 PM PDT

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf (pic), who is on trial for treason, narrowly escaped an assassination attempt as a bomb went off shortly before his convoy was due to pass early Thursday, police said.

The bomb was planted on Musharraf's route from an army hospital in Rawalpindi where he has been staying since January to his home on the outskirts of Islamabad and went off at around 2:00 am (2100 GMT Wednesday).

Nobody was injured and there have so far been no claims of responsibility.

"Four kilograms of explosive device planted in a pipeline under a bridge exploded around 20 minutes before the former president was supposed to cross the spot," senior police official Liaqat Niazi said.

The blast occurred at the Faizabad interchange, which lies at the boundary of the two cities, and destroyed a footpath around two metres wide.

Niazi said the former president was then taken home via an alternative route.

Muhammad Naeem, a spokesman for the Islamabad police, confirmed the incident, saying a bomb disposal squad had cordoned off the area after the blast and searched for additional explosives.

"Nobody was injured in the blast," he said, adding Musharraf was the intended target.

Musharraf, who led Pakistan from 1999 to 2008, returned from self-imposed exile in March last year to fight in general elections, but was barred from taking part and has faced a series of legal cases including treason.

The Taliban also vowed to send a squad of suicide bombers to kill him, and security threats have prevented him from appearing at all but two of his treason hearings.

It was the fourth attempt on the ex-general's life, with the first three occurring while he was in office.

No deal, yet

On Monday, a special court indicted Musharraf for treason, in what was seen as a milestone for civilian authority in a country long dominated by the army.

The charges relate to Musharraf's 2007 imposition of emergency rule which came as the Supreme Court was due to rule on the validity of his re-election as president.

Treason carries the maximum penalty of death, but some analysts were sceptical whether the government would allow the trial to be seen through to its completion and risk a greater clash with the military.

Musharraf had also sought permission to leave the country to see his ailing mother in the UAE, leading to renewed speculation that a deal, which would allow all sides to save face, was imminent.

But the government on Wednesday refused to end a travel ban preventing Musharraf from leaving the country.

"The interior ministry has sent a written reply to Musharraf refusing to lift travel bans as there are a number of cases against him," an official of the interior ministry told AFP.

Musharraf had been staying at the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in the garrison city of Rawalpindi since being taken ill with a heart condition in January.

But he was believed to be keen to return to his comfortable villa in the scenic Bani Gala suburb of Islamabad.

Ahmad Raza Kasuri, a member of his legal team, told reporters that Musharraf had discharged himself.

"He left the AFIC at his own request and was with his son Bilal," he said.

Thursday's attack had echoes of the first major attempt on Musharraf's life in December 2003, when a powerful bomb went off minutes after his highly guarded convoy crossed a bridge in Rawalpindi.

A few days later, he survived another attempt by two suicide bombers which left 16 people dead.

In July 2007, an unknown group fired a 7.62 submachine gun at Musharraf's plane as it took off from a runway in Rawalpindi. -AFP

Minor tsunami hits Japan after Chile quake

Posted: 02 Apr 2014 08:45 PM PDT

TOKYO: Small tsunami waves hit northern Japan early Thursday following a powerful 8.2-magnitude earthquake thousands of kilometres away across the Pacific Ocean in Chile after officials issued an evacuation advisory for certain areas.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said waves of 40 centimetres (16 inches) were monitored in Kuji, Iwate prefecture, at 7:39 am (2239 GMT Wednesday) about an hour after the first 20-centimetre tsunami was recorded there.

Waves of up to 30 centimetres were also monitored in other areas of northern Japan, the agency said, adding that bigger waves could hit the coast later.

Earlier Thursday, Japan issued a tsunami advisory, saying waves of up to one metre (three feet) above normal sea levels could hit eastern Pacific coast regions, but were unlikely to cause damage.

Large areas of the coastline covered by the advisory were damaged by the 2011 quake and tsunami that killed more than 18,000 people and triggered a nuclear accident in Fukushima.

The agency advised people to leave the coast but said it did not expect damage from the waves.

"Get out of the water and leave the coast immediately," it said.

Local authorities issued evacuation advisories to more than 22,000 people living near the coastline in Iwate prefecture, public broadcaster NHK said.

Television footage showed people fleeing to nearby shelter in Kesennuma, Miyagi prefecture, where more than 1,000 people were killed in the 2011 tsunami.

Before dawn a tsunami warning siren echoed over Ishinomaki, another city hit hard by the tsunami three years ago, and some local bus services were cancelled.

Authorities in Japan and many other countries at risk of tsunamis have well-developed early warning systems and tend to be cautious.

Television footage earlier showed officials in Kochi, southwestern Japan, closing a metal barrier to seal their local breakwater in preparation for possible high waves.

Tokyo Electric Power, which runs the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant, suspended part of operations scheduled for early Thursday, a company spokesman said.

In 1960, a 9.5-magnitude earthquake in Chile sent a tsunami across the Pacific that killed more than 140 people in Japan. 

Indonesia warning

Indonesia also said it could be hit by a small tsunami from the quake off Chile, which killed at least six people and caused nearly a million to evacuate their homes along the coast.

Waves of up to half a metre had been expected to hit the eastern region of Papua shortly after 2200 GMT Wednesday but officials said nothing had been detected so far.

"Until now there are no signs of even a small tsunami. We are monitoring closely," Frangky Ulus from the Indonesia Tsunami Early Warning System in Jayapura, Papua, told AFP.

Authorities in 19 provinces of Indonesia were alerted earlier as a precaution and people were urged to stay away from beaches.

Indonesia, which is frequently hit by earthquakes and has scores of active volcanoes, is particular vulnerable to even small tsunamis as many people on the archipelago of more than 17,000 islands live in poor, coastal communities.

More than 170,000 people were killed in Aceh province on western Sumatra island in 2004 when it was hit by a huge quake-triggered tsunami, which also left thousands dead in other countries around the Indian Ocean.

Northern Japan was rocked by a 5.6-magnitude quake early Thursday but there were no reports of damage or injuries and officials said there was no risk of a tsunami. -AFP

Related story: 
Powerful 7.8 earthquake rocks northern Chile

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