KARACHI, Pakistan — A police bomb squad defused four rockets Monday that were aimed at an airport in Karachi used by the U.S.-led military coalition operating in Afghanistan.
Officials said they believed that Islamic radicals were responsible. They said it appeared that the rockets--rigged with a homemade timer--and the Jan. 23 kidnapping of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl were part of an extremist campaign against President Pervez Musharraf because of his support for the U.S.-led war against terrorism.
Two of the rockets were aimed at a terminal at Karachi's international airport used by the coalition for supplying troops in Afghanistan. The other two were aimed at an airport hotel used as a barracks for troops assigned to the airport.
The rockets were spotted by a passerby, who alerted police.
"It's obvious who did it," police Supt. Asad Khan said. "It is the extremists we are cracking down on."
Police Chief Kamal Shah said the 107-millimeter rockets, found about half a mile from the terminal, would probably not have caused serious damage but were meant as a warning to the government about its support for the U.S.-led campaign.
"It was not possible to hit a target," Shah said. "It was more 'to whom it may concern,' because we have come down very hard with extremists."
Concern about Islamic militant activity in Karachi has risen since the abduction of Pearl, who was investigating links between Pakistani militants and Richard C. Reid, the man arrested in December on a flight from Paris to Miami with explosives in his shoes. Pearl's whereabouts remain unknown.
Police have four men in custody in the Pearl case, including Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a British-born Islamic militant who is believed to be the ringleader.
Saeed admitted his role in the kidnapping during a court hearing Thursday and complained that Pakistan "shouldn't be catering to America's needs."
With Saeed in custody, the focus of the nationwide manhunt is Haider Ali Farooqi, believed to be Saeed's accomplice and the actual kidnapper.
In a report Monday, the English-language newspaper the News reported that Saeed told interrogators Pearl's kidnapping was the "first salvo" in an all-out battle between Islamic militants and the government.