Bhutto Mourned As Pakistan Rages - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Bhutto Mourned As Pakistan Rages

(CBS/AP) Hundreds of thousands of mourners paid last respects to Benazir Bhutto as the opposition leader was buried Friday at the mausoleum of Pakistan's most famous political dynasty. Furious supporters rampaged through several cities to protest her assassination less than two weeks before crucial elections.

Some wept, others chanted "Benazir is alive," as the plain wood coffin was placed beside the grave of her father in the vast, white marble mausoleum.

The crowd stood silent as she was interred next to her father, also a popular former prime minister who met a violent death, reports CBS News correspondent Sheila MacVicar from Islamabad.

Officials had initially said that Bhutto died from bullet wounds. But an Interior Ministry spokesman now says all three shots missed her as she greeted supporters through the sunroof of her vehicle.

He says she was killed when she tried to duck back into the vehicle, and shock waves from the blast knocked her head into a lever attached to the sunroof.

The attack on the former prime minister - President Pervez Musharraf's most powerful political opponent - plunged Pakistan into turmoil and badly damaged plans to restore democracy in this nuclear-armed nation, a key U.S. ally in the war on terror.

Pakistan's interior minister told The Associated Press that al Qaeda and Taliban were behind the assassination of the former Prime Minister.

"We have the evidence that al Qaeda and Taliban were behind the suicide attack on Benazir Bhutto," Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema said that on Friday, the government recorded an "intelligence intercept" in which militant leader Baitullah Mehsud "congratulated his people for carrying out this cowardly act." He gave no further details on the nature of the intercept.

Cheema described Mehsud as an "al Qaeda leader" and said he was also behind the Oct. 18 bombing against Bhutto's homecoming parade through Karachi that killed more than 140 people.

He said Pakistani security forces would hunt down those responsible for Bhutto's death.

In cities elsewhere in Pakistan, Bhutto's supporters ransacked banks, waged shootouts with police and burned trains and stations in a spasm of violence less than two weeks before parliamentary elections.

A Pakistani security official said at least 23 people have been killed in violence and the army has been called in to help keep order in several cities in southern Pakistan.

"The situation on the ground is quite precarious," Pakistan's Geo TV Islamabad bureau chief Absar Alam told CBS' The Early Show. Alam added that the country is "spinning out of control."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mohammedmian Soomro said the government had no immediate plans to postpone the Jan. 8 vote, despite the growing chaos and a top opposition leader's decision to boycott the poll.

"Right now the elections stand where they were," he told a news conference. "We will consult all the political parties to take any decision about it."

Bhutto's mourners arrived in the southern town of Garhi Khuda Bakhsh by tractor, bus, car and jeep. Many crammed inside the mausoleum and threw petals toward the ambulance that bore her coffin. Women beat their heads and chests in grief.

"As long as the moon and sun are alive, so is the name of Bhutto," they chanted.

An Islamic cleric led mourners in prayers as her flag-draped coffin was placed in a grave beside her father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, also a popular former prime minister who met a violent death.

Some mourners blamed President Pervez Musharraf's government for Bhutto's death. Others said they felt adrift and hollow.

"I don't know what will happen to the country now," said Nazakat Soomro, 32.

Bhutto's funeral procession began Friday afternoon at her ancestral residence in the southern town of Naudero. Her plain wood coffin, draped in the red, green and black flag of her Pakistan People's Party, was carried in the white ambulance, passing a burning passenger train on the way.

Bhutto's husband, Asif Ali Zardari, and her three children arrived from Dubai to attend the funeral, party officials said.

Violence intensified in some cities Friday. A mob in Karachi looted three banks and set them on fire, police said.

About 7,000 people in the central city of Multan ransacked seven banks and a gas station and threw stones at police, who responded with tear gas. In the capital, Islamabad, about 100 protesters burned tires in a commercial quarter of the city.

Paramilitary rangers were given the authority to use live fire to stop rioters from damaging property in southern Pakistan, said Maj. Asad Ali, the rangers' spokesman.

"We have orders to shoot at sight," he said.

Violent mobs burned 10 railway stations and several trains across Bhutto's Sindh province, forcing the suspension of all train service between the city of Karachi and the eastern Punjab province, said Mir Mohammed Khaskheli, a senior railroad official. The rioters uprooted one section of the track leading to the Indian border, he said.

About 4,000 Bhutto party supporters rallied in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Friday and several hundred of them ransacked the office of the main pro-Musharraf party, burning furniture and stationery. The office was empty and no one was hurt.

Protesters, carrying the green, red and black flags of Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party shouted "Musharraf dog" and "Bhutto was alive yesterday, Bhutto is alive today."In Peshawar, protesters also burned the office of a small party allied with Musharraf.

Other areas were nearly deserted Friday morning as businesses closed and public transportation came to a halt at the start of three days of national mourning for the opposition leader.

"The repercussions of her murder will continue to unfold for months, even years," read a mournful editorial in the Dawn newspaper. "What is clear is that Pakistan's political landscape will never be the same, having lost one of its finest daughters."

The United States struggled to reformulate its plan to stabilize the country based on a rapprochement between Bhutto and Musharraf.

For the U.S., a destabilized Pakistan is a double threat. Street violence could derail the elections and it could make vulnerable Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. Defense officials tell CBS News national security correspondent David Martin they are physically watching Pakistan's nukes.

The Pakistanis are believed to have between 50 and 75 nuclear weapons. They are stored in facilities which the U.S. helped to design to make as secure as possible, Martin reports. The weapons consist of bombs for aircraft and warheads for missiles, but they are stored in a disassembled form as an additional fail-safe. That would first have to be assembled before it would be a true nuclear weapon ready to go off.

Bhutto's death closed another grim chapter in Pakistan's bloodstained history, 28 years after her father was hanged by a military dictatorship just a few miles from where she was killed.

As the news of her killing spread, supporters gathered at the hospital where Bhutto had been taken, smashed glass doors, stoned cars and chanted, "Killer, Killer, Musharraf."

The U.N. Security Council vigorously denounced the killing and urged "all Pakistanis to exercise restraint and maintain stability in the country."

Next to Musharraf, Bhutto, 54, was the country's best known political figure, serving two terms as prime minister between 1988 and 1996. She was respected in the West for her liberal outlook and determination to combat Islamic extremism.

Bhutto had just addressed more than 5,000 supporters in Rawalpindi on Thursday when the attacker struck as she was leaving the rally in a white sports utility vehicle.

A smiling Bhutto had stuck her head out of the sunroof to respond to youths chanting her name, said Sardar Qamar Hayyat, an official from Bhutto's party.

"Then I saw a thin, young man jumping toward her vehicle from the back and opening fire. Moments later, I saw her speeding vehicle going away. That was the time when I heard a blast and fell down," Hayyat said.

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