Friday, 19 October 2007

NEWS- Islamist militants blamed for Bhutto attack


KARACHI - The Pakistan government blamed Islamist militants for twin blasts early on Friday that killed 133 people as opposition leader Benazir Bhutto drove through masses of supporters in Karachi.

Bhutto, travelling in a truck reinforced to withstand bomb attacks, was unhurt by the deadliest bomb attack in her country's violent history.
Army Chief General Musharraf condoled with his potential ally by telephone from Islamabad and they both "expressed their unflinching resolve to fight the scourge of extremism and terrorism", the president's spokesman Rashid Quereshi said. The grenade and suicide attack struck Bhutto's motorcade as it edged through hundreds of thousands of well-wishers who had stayed up late into the night to welcome the two-time prime minister back to Pakistan after years of self-imposed exile.

There was no claim of responsibility. But police were investigating whether the attack had links to tribal regions bordering Afghanistan which have become hotbeds of support for al Qaeda and the Taliban. Militants linked to al Qaeda, angered by Bhutto's support for the U.S. war on terrorism, had this week threatened to assassinate her, and officials said there were intelligence reports of plots by three separate groups.

"The first blast was caused by a hand grenade. The second was the suicide attack," said Manzoor Mughal, a senior police official. "The attacker ran into the crowd and blew himself up."Mughal said the head of the suspected bomber had been found, and it was estimated he had 15 to 20 kg of explosives strapped to his body. Typically, the upward force from a blast blows off the head an attacker.

Bhutto's husband, Asif Ali Zardari, accused Pakistani intelligence agencies of involvement in the attack on his wife, a suspicion shared by many Pakistanis.

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