Friday, October 19, 2007

Pakistan - Blame game after deadly blasts

Less than 12 hours after a suicide bomb attack targeting former Pakistani PM Benazir Bhutto recriminations are beginning to fly. At least 136 died in the bomb blasts and over 500 were injured. She had earlier been greeted by tens of thousands who lined the streets in Karachi. The swell of the crowd was so large she had travelled less than 10 km in 6 hours. But following the two bomb blasts and reporting of bullets having been fired at her armour plated bus, the celebrations came to an abrupt and bloody end. There have been accusations that the ruling military may have been responsible. Ms Bhutto's husband, Asif Ali Zardari, specifically accused Pakistani intelligence agencies of involvement.
Others point the finger of blame on people loyal to Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. He had ordered the execution of her father in 1979. "It is dignitaries of the former regime of General Zia who are today behind the extremism and the fanaticism," Ms Bhutto told Paris-Match.
Extremists had warned of possible attacks and police had given advice to Bhutto not to conduct the long procession through the streets [BBC]. Whoever was responsible for the bloody attacks, the blasts have rocked the country and further created political instability. The bombings have been cited as being in the top 10 worst terror attacks in the last 9 years by Intelcenter.

There was swift condemnation from around the world, not least from Britain and the US who had help create the conditions for Ms Bhutto to return from her self imposed exile. India and China also condemned the attacks as did the EU and UN. Meanwhile General Pervez Musharraf described the attack as "a conspiracy against democracy".
Speaking a short time ago Benazir Bhutto condemned the bombers saying that it was anti-Islamic. “No Muslim can attack a woman or innocent people”, she said. “I’m grateful to God for protecting me, and to the police who lost their lives trying to protect members of the Pakistani People’s Party,” she added, but the former PM called for an inquiry especially as to why street lights were switched off prior to the blasts. She confirmed that shots were fired at her bus following or during the explosions. Describing the carnage surround her vehicle including some fifty security guards lying dead, she said she would continue to fight for democracy in Pakistan.

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