Friday, December 28, 2007

Bhutto laid to rest as unrest overcomes Pakistan


GARHI KHUDA BAKHSH, Pakistan - Hundreds of thousands of mourners, weeping and chanting for justice, thronged the mausoleum of Pakistan's most famous political dynasty in a raw outpouring of grief for Benazir Bhutto. The government blamed al-Qaida and the Taliban for the assassination of the opposition leader, who was buried alongside her father.

Furious supporters, many of them blaming — President Pervez Musharraf's government for the shooting and bombing attack on the former prime minister, rampaged through several cities in violence that left at least 23 dead less than two weeks before crucial elections.

Some wept, others chanted "Benazir is alive," as the plain wood coffin was placed beside the grave of her father in the vast, white marble mausoleum in southern Sindh province near the Bhuttos' ancestral home.

Thursday's attack on Bhutto plunged Pakistan into turmoil and badly damaged plans to restore democracy in this nuclear-armed nation, a key U.S. ally in the war on terror.

"We have the evidence that al-Qaida and Taliban were behind the suicide attack on Benazir Bhutto," Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz said.

He said investigators had resolved the "whole mystery" behind the opposition leader's killing and would give details at press conference later Friday.

Bhutto's supporters ransacked banks, waged shootouts with police and burned trains and stations in a spasm of violence less than two weeks before parliamentary elections.

Soldiers patrolled the streets of the southern cities of Hyderabad and Karachi in an effort to quell violence, witnesses said. At least 23 people were killed in unrest, said Ghulam Mohammed Mohtaram, home secretary for Sindh province.

Hundreds of thousands of mourners paid last respects to Benazir Bhutto as the opposition leader was buried Friday at the mausoleum of Pakistan's most famous political dynasty. Furious supporters rampaged through several cities, in violence that left at least 23 dead less than two weeks before crucial elections.

Some wept, others chanted "Benazir is alive," as the plain wood coffin was placed beside the grave of her father in the vast, white marble mausoleum in southern Sindh province near the Bhuttos' ancestral home.

The shooting and bombing attack on the former prime minister — President Pervez Musharraf's most powerful political opponent — plunged Pakistan into turmoil and badly damaged plans to restore democracy in this nuclear-armed nation, a key U.S. ally in the war on terror.

Bhutto's supporters ransacked banks, waged shootouts with police and burned trains and stations in a spasm of violence less than two weeks before parliamentary elections. The army was called in to help keep order in several cities in Sindh, said Ghulam Mohammed Mohtaram, the province's home secretary, who said 23 people had died in unrest.

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