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Archive for Monday, September 25, 2006

Power outage leads to rumors of coup

September 25, 2006

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— Panicky rumors of a coup swept through Pakistan on Sunday after a power outage interrupted national television broadcasts and later plunged much of the country into darkness.

With President Gen. Pervez Musharraf away on an extended trip to the United States and Canada at a time of regional tensions and growing insurgency in neighboring Afghanistan, many Pakistanis speculated he had been overthrown in absentia.

The chairman of the national power administration, Tariq Hamid, said at a 10 p.m. news conference in Lahore that the outage was caused by technical problems and no sabotage had been involved.

The capital was quiet late into the night, and there were no signs of military vehicles or troops in the streets. There were also no reports of unusual military movements in Rawalpindi, a city near Islamabad where the armed forces are headquartered.

But for hours, with power flickering on and off in Islamabad and half the country still without light by late evening, rumors swirled of a possible coup against Musharraf, an army general who seized power from Pakistan's last elected leader in 1999.

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