|ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Shots were fired at the motorcade of Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani Wednesday afternoon near the capital, Islamabad, but Mr. Gilani was not in the motorcade at the time, Pakistani officials said.
The attack took place in Rawalpindi, a garrison city near the capital. However, Sherry Rehman, the Pakistani information minister, said Mr. Gilani was not traveling in any of the cars in the motorcade. “This motorcade had left Islamabad to pick him up from the airport. But the prime minister used a different route," she said.
Footage of a black Mercedes in the motorcade broadcast on Pakistani television showed two bullet marks on the bulletproof right window near the driver’s seat. The highway where the motorcade was traveling is considered a high security zone where extra police and intelligence forces are deployed to protect the motorcades of senior government officials.
A senior official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Mr. Gilani did not travel by the road. "He used the aerial route to reach the Prime Minister House,” the official said.
There were conflicting reports about whether Mr. Gilani, who was returning to Islamabad after a visit to the city of Lahore, had flown into Chaklala Air Base in Rawalpindi, where the motorcade was expected to collect him, or whether the motorcade was on its way to Lahore to collect him. There was also initial confusion about whether Mr. Gilani was in the motorcade or not when the attack occurred, between 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m.
A statement issued by the prime minister’s office said: “Of the multiple sniper shots fired on the prime minister’s vehicle, two hit the window on the driver side. However, because of the robust and comprehensive security measures, the prime minister and all the members of his motorcade remained unharmed.”
The angle of the bullet marks on the Mercedes suggests that the car was heading on the main road in the direction of the airport in Rawalpindi.
Ms. Rehman said it was too early to identify the attackers or the motive for the attack. "It would be irresponsible to speculate without details," she said.
However, immediate suspicion fell on the Taliban. The Pakistani military has carried out a major air operation against Taliban forces in the Bajaur area of the tribal region in the country’s north along the Afghanistan border in the last three weeks. A ceasefire was put in place by the government last weekend. But the Taliban had vowed during the air campaign that they would seek revenge.
Last month, two suicide bombers killed at least 80 people outside Pakistan’s biggest weapons factory complex, in an attack claimed by the Pakistani military.
With the growing militant threat, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, secretly convened a highly unusual meeting of senior American and Pakistani commanders, including Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, chief of staff of the Pakistani Army, on an aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean on Tuesday to discuss how to combat the escalating violence along the border shared by Pakistan and Afghanistan
Source - http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/04/world/asia/04pstan.html?hp
[MOD - please use quote tags and give your source. I have added the quotes and source on this occasion - next time I will issue an official warning. I also expect posters to make some personal input to the story - not simply cut-paste from another source.