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Pakistani PM's Motorcade Hit By Gunfire

This story was written by CBS News' Farhan Bokhari in Islamabad.
There were conflicting reports about whether Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani survived an assassination attempt Wednesday, when shots were fired at his motorcade near Islamabad's international airport.

The incident immediately prompted a "red alert" security warning surrounding Pakistan's senior leadership, a senior interior ministry official told CBS News.

"The prime minister is unhurt but two bullets hit his bulletproof car. This is a very serious incident," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The official said an escort car accompanying Gilani was also hit by gunfire, though nobody in the motorcade was hurt.

Gilani's presence in the car, which was reportedly driving him back to his official residence having picked him up after arriving home from a trip, was widely reported in Pakistani and international media.

Soon after the initial reports that he had survived the attack, there was disputing information from sources in the government.

French news agency AFP cited Pakistan's Interior Secretary Kamal Shah as saying Gilani was not in any of the vehicles during the attack, but rather that the motorcade was on its way to pick up the premier at the airport when it was fired upon.

Soon after, a Pakistani television network said unnamed government officials had made the same claim - that Gilani was not in the motorcade during the attack.

It was impossible for CBS to immediately reconcile the varying reports, but several high-ranking Pakistani officials also told the Associated Press that Gilani was riding in the car hit by two bullets.

A Pakistani intelligence official said authorities were investigating any possible link between the shooting and an attack early Wednesday morning thought to have been carried out by U.S. and/or NATO troops in a remote area along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan. Early reports suggested that as many as 20 people were killed in the pre-dawn raid in South Waziristan.

"The sequence is of interest to us. The prime minister's motorcade getting attacked just a few hours after the attack on the militants - Maybe there is a connection, we are examining that possibility," said the intelligence official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity.

Last Friday, Pakistani officials confirmed that Asif Ali Zardari, widower of the late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, had relocated to the official prime minister's residence - sharing it with his coalition partner Gilani - after receiving credible threats of a likely attack.

Zardari is the frontrunner in an upcoming contest to become Paksitan's next president. The election is set to take place on Saturday, Sept. 6.

Pervez Musharraf, the former U.S.-backed president, who resigned last month, rather than face almost-certain impeachment, survived at least three known assassination attempts during his nine year rule.

Musharraf immediately turned his back on Afghanistan's former Taliban rulers within hours of the Sept. 11, 201 terrorist attacks and became a key U.S. ally in the war against Islamic militancy. Al Qaeda's leaders, including Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahr, vowed to target Musharraf for his support of the U.S.