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Pakistan Tightens Security to Thwart Violence as Bhutto is Buried

  • Ayaz Gul

Hundreds of thousands of mourners gathered to at the family graveyard where former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was being laid to rest. Authorities in Pakistan have beefed up security around the country as supporters of the assassinated politician have torched train stations, buildings and vehicles in several cities to protest her killing. From Islamabad, Ayaz Gul reports.

Benazir Bhutto was buried Friday afternoon next to her father, also a former prime minister of Pakistan. Hundreds of thousands of mourners surrounded the graveyard near her family's home in Sindh province, in southern Pakistan.

Despite displays of anger and grief, the crowd was largely peaceful during the funeral prayers. However, there have been riots and protests around the country, as Ms. Bhutto's supporters show their anger at her assassination on Thursday.

Officials in Sindh confirm that security forces have been ordered to shoot violent protesters on sight. Major Asad Ali is the spokesman for the Rangers - the paramilitary force in the region.

"Sindh Rangers have been given the orders to shoot to kill those who are damaging the government property and those who are torturing the citizens and those who are setting ablaze vehicles, petrol pumps and shops," he explained.

Several deaths were reported in the violence. News reports say protesters in several locations attacked the offices of the allies of President Pervez Musharraf. Some of Ms. Bhutto's supporters blame him for her death, saying the government did not provide enough security.

Her assassination has plunged Pakistan into the worst turmoil of the country's 60-year history.

Authorities have yet to determine the motives or identify the assassin who shot Ms. Bhutto as she left an election rally after delivering a speech to thousands of her supporters.

President Musharraf has condemned the killing and has declared three days of national mourning.

There are fears elections scheduled for January could be canceled because of Ms. Bhutto's assassination and the decision of another opposition leader, Nawaz Sharif, to boycott the vote.

But Prime Minister Mohammedmian Soomro dismissed those fears, saying the government has no immediate plan to postpone the polls.

Ms. Bhutto's husband, Asif Ali Zardari, and her three children arrived early in the day from Dubai to attend the funeral.

Ms. Bhutto, the daughter of the late Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, had served twice as the country's prime minister. She had spent the past several years in exile after she had been charged with corruption, and returned two months ago to campaign in next months' election.