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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: Afghanistan | International | Government & Elections
Bomb blasts hit Bhutto's return to Pakistan
Friday, October 19, 2007 :Two bomb blasts last night ripped through huge crowds in the Pakistani city of Karachi gathered to welcome former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who had just returned after eight years in exile. Up to 125 people are reported dead and 100 injured, but the toll could rise as police and rescue workers assess the scene.
Bhutto, who was travelling on top of a specially prepared truck, escaped unharmed and was immediately taken to her official residence. Among the dead were supporters of Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) as well as police and journalists.
Bhutto landed in Karachi at around 2 p.m. local time from Dubai and was making her way at snail’s pace toward the shrine of Pakistan’s founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah, where she was due to give a speech. Some 20,000 police and paramilitary troops, including snipers and bomb disposal units, had been mobilised to provide security. An estimated 150,000 to 300,000 people lined the route. The two bombs detonated shortly after midnight, creating scenes of panic and chaos.
At this stage, no organisation has claimed responsibility. At least three groups linked to Al Qaeda and the Taliban were reportedly threatening to kill Bhutto for supporting for the US “war on terrorism” and its occupation of Afghanistan. Haji Omar, a Taliban commander in Waziristan, told Reuters: “She has an agreement with America. We will carry out attacks on Benazir Bhutto as we did on General Pervez Musharraf.”
Pakistani President Musharraf and the US were both quick to condemn the bombingsRead More
Friday, October 19, 2007 : Benazir Bhutto's triumphant homecoming to Pakistan turned to deadly carnage last night when two car bombs ripped through crowds surrounding the former prime minister's truck as it made its way through Karachi, killing at least 120 people and wounding hundreds more.
Ms Bhutto, who had returned after eight years of exile, escaped unharmed but there was no doubt she was the target of a carefully planned assassination attempt. A small explosion was followed by a huge blast just feet from the front of her vehicle, shattering its windows and setting a police escort on fire. Four bullets were also fired at the convoy, reports said.
Ms Bhutto could be seen in television pictures being lowered from the bottom deck of her truck. Azhar Farooqi, a police commander, said she was rushed from the area under contingency plans to return her to her Karachi residence. "She was evacuated very safely," he added.
Ghulam Mohammed Mohtaram, the provincial home secretary, said the main impact of the blast was absorbed by the police vehicle. Dozens of bodies could be seen lying motionless at the scene; other victims were writhing around in agony.
Seemi Jamali, a doctor at the nearby Jinnah Hospital, said his casualty unit had taken in 19 dead and 70 wounded. Between 20 and 25 of the injured were in a critical condition. Another medic at the Liaqat National Hospital reported 30 dead and 80 hurt, many critically.
Men were seen running away from the scene, some stretchering the wounded to hospitals as blood streamed down the white robes worn by many of them.
The perpetrators of the bombs – which police indicated might have been suicide attacks – were not immediately clear. Earlier, however, the pro-Western Mrs Bhutto had criticised Islamic militants groups whose threats had overshadowed her return to Pakistan. She has previously infuriated al-Qa'ida sympathisers by offering support to the US in its efforts to find the terror group's leader, Osama bin Laden.Read More