5 Sentenced to Death for Musharraf Plot

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A Pakistani military court on Friday sentenced five men to death for their roles in a 2003 suicide plot to kill President Gen. Pervez Musharraf (search), an army spokesman said.

The men, one of them a soldier, were arrested after suicide bombers tried to ram two explosives-laden vehicles into Musharraf's motorcade on a road in the city of Rawalpindi (search), near the capital of Islamabad, on Dec. 25, 2003, said Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan.

Musharraf escaped unharmed, but 16 people, mostly the president's police guards, were killed.

Three other civilians were given lesser sentences Friday in connection with the plot, but Sultan declined to provide further details.

Authorities have not said how any of the group were involved in the assassination attempt, and Sultan would not say where the trial, which was closed to the public, was held.

Musharraf, who made Pakistan a key ally of the United States in its war on terrorism after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, has survived at least three known attempts on his life — one in southern city of Karachi and two in Rawalpindi.

The Dec. 25, 2003, attack came 11 days after Usama bin Laden's Al Qaeda (search) network, with the help of Pakistani Islamic militants, tried to kill Musharraf by blowing up his motorcade on a bridge also in Rawalpindi.

Musharraf has said Abu Farraj al-Libbi, purported to be Al Qaeda's No. 3 leader, masterminded the two attacks against him in Rawalpindi for helping the United States in its war against terrorism.

Al-Libbi was arrested in northwestern Pakistan in May and later handed over to U.S. authorities.

The latest court decision came days after a Pakistani soldier, Islam Sadiqqui, was hanged at a jail in the central city of Multan for his role in the attempt to kill Musharraf on the Rawalpindi bridge.