ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – President Gen. Pervez Musharraf announced Wednesday that authorities had captured suspects allegedly behind an attempt on his life and said Pakistan had to win its battle with extremists.
It was the first confirmation that any suspects were in custody following last week's explosion in a park near Musharraf's residence in Rawalpindi, the garrison city close to the capital, Islamabad. Two rockets were discovered near the National Assembly.
Asked at a news conference whether the explosion and rockets were meant for him, Musharraf said: "I cannot say for sure whether I was being targeted. Maybe I was."
"We have unearthed the whole gang. We have caught the culprits and they are extremists," he said. He did not describe them further nor say how many had been detained.
Nobody was hurt in either incident. On Saturday, another two Russian-made 107 mm rockets were found and defused near the headquarters of Pakistan's spy agency.
The interior minister said they were planted by "miscreants," a term often used by Pakistani officials for Islamic militants.
Musharraf has survived at least three known attempts on his life since taking power in a bloodless coup in 1999. At least 16 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack on his convoy in Rawalpindi in 2003.
The attempts on Musharraf have been blamed on Al Qaeda-linked militants.
The Pakistani president also said that a Sept. 5 truce between Islamic militants and the government in the North Waziristan tribal region was not assured. He said it was vital that local authorities help strengthen the standing of the traditional tribal elders in the area over pro-Taliban extremists.
"There is no guarantee that it will succeed," he said of the peace deal.
Some U.S. and NATO officials fear the truce, which ended fighting that broke out after the 2001 American-led invasion of Afghanistan, could provide a sanctuary for armed extremists attacking foreign troops in Afghanistan.
Pakistani officials have vowed to not let militants in the area conduct attacks inside Pakistan or Afghanistan.
"Let's take the people away from the militant Taliban. Let's take them on our side against the militants," Musharraf said. "We have to win this battle against extremists."
Musharraf angered Islamic radicals after allying Pakistan with the U.S.-led war against terrorism following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Musharraf has said Pakistani authorities have handed about 700 Al Qaeda-linked suspects over to U.S. authorities since 2001. But top Al Qaeda figures, including Usama bin Laden, are believed to be at large along the porous Pakistan-Afghan border frontier.