Musharraf, who appeared well and unruffled, told state-run Pakistan Television it was unclear exactly who was responsible for the afternoon attack on his motorcade in the city of Rawalpindi that damaged his car and killed 14 people, but added:
“Certainly they are terrorists, extremists…They are endangering Islam.”
He said his car came under attack when he was returning home from a meeting of ministers of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.
“A suicide bomber first attacked me, but thank God nothing happened to us and we moved ahead,” he said, adding that another car then tried to attack his armoured Mercedes.
Government to look into
“I am sorry that 14 people lost their lives and more than 40 were wounded,” he said. “They lost their lives because of me.”
Musharraf said some people had said there had been a big security lapse, but he did not want to make any hasty comments.
“These are suicide bombers and to check them is not easy. They are like mobile bombs,” he said. “People protect me by risking their lives. They are loyal. If there is a lapse by some individual, we will look into it. But we should not take steps in haste.”
“I saw a policeman trying to stop the (suicide bomber’s) car. He lost his life for me.”
Musharraf brushed aside concerns about a security threat to regional leaders including Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee who are due to attend a 4-6 January summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation in Islamabad.
“It is targeted bombing and I am the target,” he said. “People around me are in some danger, but others are not. We are fighting against terrorism. We will continue to fight it. It is my mission to take this country forward.”
“They lost their lives because of me”
He said those who planned attacks from the safety of hideouts were “cowards”.
“My faith has strengthened, my resolve has increased. We will wipe out extremism,” he said.
The huge blasts scattered debris and body parts over a wide area. The windscreen of Musharraf’s armoured Mercedes was damaged and the state flag blown from its wing, but he was unhurt, officials said.
PTV said Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali declared a day of thanksgiving on Friday for Musharraf’s survival.