Slain Bhutto's supporters take anger to the streets
Thu Dec 27, 2007 11:39am EST
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan put its paramilitary
forces on "red alert" across the country on Thursday
after the assassination of opposition leader Benazir
Bhutto sparked violent protests by her supporters.
President Pervez Musharraf denounced what he called a
terrorist attack and appealed for calm after angry
backers of the slain former prime minister took to the
streets across Pakistan, from the Himalayas to the
The unrest was predictably fiercest in her native
Sindh province and its capital, Karachi.
"Police in Sindh have been put on red alert," said a
senior police official. "We have increased deployment
and are patrolling in all the towns and cities, as
there is trouble almost everywhere."
Reports said security was deteriorating in Karachi,
where thousands poured on to the streets to protest.
At least three banks, a government office and a post
office were set on fire, a witness said.
Tires were set on fire on many roads, and shooting and
stone-throwing was reported in many places. Most shops
and markets in the city shut down.
At least 20 vehicles were torched in the central Sindh
town of Hyderabad.
There were also small protests in Rawalpindi and the
nearby capital, Islamabad.
Protesters blocked roads with burning tyres and
chanted slogans against President Pervez Musharraf in
Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistani Kashmir in the
Police said they had been ordered to block the main
road between Punjab province and Sindh province,
apparently to stop the movement of protesters.
Disturbances were also reported in the southeastern
city of Multan, although details were sketchy. In the
eastern city of Lahore, Bhutto party workers burnt
three buses and damaged several other vehicles, police
Trouble was reported from the interior of Sindh
province, including the Bhutto ancestral home at
Larkana, police said.
"The situation is not good in the interior of Sindh. A
large number of people have come out on the roads in
many cities to protest," said senior police official
(Editing by Roger Crabb)