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Musharraf survives two-pronged attack on convoy

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Musharraf's car was damaged in the attack.

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Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf survives another assassination attempt.
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CNN's Ralitsa Vassileva talks to a CNN producer about the assassination attempt.
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Would-be assassins launched a two-pronged suicide attack against a convoy carrying Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on Thursday, the second attempt to kill him in the last 12 days.

Musharraf escaped unharmed, the Pakistani Information Ministry said. Police said 15 people died in the attack and at least 46 were wounded. It was not immediately known how many of the casualties were attackers and how many were in the convoy.

Islamic militants have been blamed for previous attempts on Musharraf's life. Three such militants were convicted of an attempt last year that was similar to Thursday's attack.

In this attack, Musharraf was traveling from Islamabad to his home in Rawalpindi, just outside the capital, when two vans tried to enter the convoy -- one at the front, the other at the rear. Both vans exploded, police said.

"When we reached the bridge where there was a bomb explosion a few days back, there was a vehicle that approached me, my car," Musharraf said after Thursday's attack. "A policeman stopped it, it exploded."

His convoy speeded up, he said, and there was another explosion. "We went through the debris, we stopped safe and secure."

But others were killed, including some who worked at a nearby gas station. A witness said the dead included civilians and a policeman.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

Labelling his attackers cowards, Musharraf said his resolve to fight terrorism has only grown stronger following the assassination bids.

A senior U.S. State Department official said, "Musharraf has made some pretty bold and controversial decisions, and he is in a dangerous neighborhood."

The United States has not been asked to help provide Musharraf with additional security in the wake of the attack, the official said. "If he needs something, obviously we will try to accommodate."

It was not immediately known if any U.S. officials would insist in investigating the attack. The United States provided assistance after one previous attempt on Musharraf's life.

Asked about his security, Musharraf said he takes many security precautions, but "total security against suicide bombers really cannot be guaranteed by any force."

"See events around the world ... taking place with impunity," he said. "So while we need to tighten our security and take to task who has shown lapse, one should not make any jittery judgments. ... We will take action when we find any lapses which we detect."

The Pakistani Cabinet met Thursday evening to discuss whether to declare a state of emergency, government officials told CNN.

Musharraf narrowly escaped an attack December 14, when a blast rocked a bridge in Rawalpindi about a minute after his motorcade had passed over it. (Full story)

Shortly after the attack, Musharraf blamed the blast on Islamic militants whom he had incensed when he sided with the United States in its war against the al Qaeda terrorist network and its Taliban allies in Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

He banned several militant, religious and separatist groups in Pakistan and the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir and has arrested hundreds of members.

Last month, he outlawed six previously banned militant groups after complaints from the U.S. they had reformed under new names.

CNN's Sayed Noqvi contributed to this report.


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