Five men sentenced to death for plot to kill Musharraf

Five men sentenced to death by high court Friday for their roles in a 2003 suicide plot to kill President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, an army spokesman said.

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, near the capital, Islamabad, on December 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 any 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 media and the public, was held.

The attack came 11 days after Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network, with the help of Pakistani Islamic militants, tried to kill Musharraf by blowing up his motorcade on a bridge in Rawalpindi.

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

Musharraf has said Abu Farraj al-Libbi, purported to be al-Qaida'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, reports the AP.

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