Dozens Die In Bhutto Assassination Bid


Sind Bomb Blast

More than 100 people have been killed during an assassination attempt on the former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in Karachi.

Scene of bomb blastTwo bombs went off in a procession welcoming her back to the country after eight years in exile.

Her bullet-proof bus had just passed when the blasts happened.

She was unhurt and has been taken to her house in the city but at least 115 people were killed and around 150 others wounded.

An initial small explosion was followed by a huge blast just feet from the vehicle. At least one of them was thought to be a suicide bombing.

Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf said the attack represented “a conspiracy against democracy” and the US also condemned the atrocity.

Ms Bhutto’s procession had been heading to a rally near the tomb of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.

Hundreds of thousands of people had lined the route.

Militants linked to al Qaeda, angered by her support for the US war on terrorism, had threatened to assassinate her.

Christina Lamb, Ms Bhutto’s biographer, was on the truck at the time of the explosions.

She told Sky News of the terrifying moment that one of the bombs went off, covering her in blood.

“We had been on the bus for about nine hours, there were huge crowds and we were talking about what a great atmosphere there was.

“Suddenly there was an enormous blast and a huge ball of orange flame came across the front of the bus.

Bhutto’s vehicle targeted”Everybody just screamed. I was covered in blood, but it wasn’t mine, it was somebody else’s.

“There were about 20 people on top of the bus, it was pretty exposed in retrospect.”

She added that Ms Bhutto had by chance gone downstairs in the bus away from the blast at the time it went off.

“I’m sure she feels really devastated that this has happened,” she added.

Four bullets were reportedly fired at the convoy but were held by the reinforced glass on the bus.

Earlier, Ms Bhutto pledged to fight for democracy as she ended her exile over allegations of corruption amid chaotic scenes at Karachi airport.

With tears in her eyes as she walked off the plane that had brought her from Dubai, Ms Bhutto waved at supporters and said: “I feel good.

“I counted the hours, the minutes and the seconds just to see this land, sky and grass.”

The 54-year-old said she was fighting for democracy and to help her country defeat the extremism that she said had given it the reputation as a hotbed of international terrorism.

Some 2,500 paramilitary troops had been deployed around Karachi airport and 10,000 more were on standby for her homecoming.

Brushing off fears of Islamic militant attack, Ms Bhutto told Sky News in an exclusive interview this week that only she could bring democracy back to Pakistan.

Ms Bhutto’s return follows negotiations with President General Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup.

Rising death toll in Pakistan blast – SMH – 19.Oct 07

The Pakistan page at Sky News

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