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Bhutto 'blocked from hiring foreign bodyguards'

world Updated: Dec 30, 2007 12:26 IST

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Benazir Bhutto tried to hire bodyguards from Britain and the United States to protect her in Pakistan but President Pervez Musharraf blocked her plans, according to the former Premier's senior aides.

"She asked to bring in trained security personnel from abroad. In fact, she and her husband repeatedly tried to get visas for such protection but they're denied by the government of Pakistan," Mark Siegel, her US representative, was quoted by The Sunday Telegraph as saying.

While Bhutto had approached the London-based firm Armor Group, which guards UK diplomats in the Middle East, she also negotiated deals with the American Blackwater operation.

Though Armor Group said that it had no knowledge of any talks, a Blackwater spokesman confirmed the negotiations.

"We were approached to provide (former) Prime Minister Bhutto's security, but an agreement was unfortunately never reached," the spokesperson told the British newspaper, but she refused to go into the precise details.

In fact, Bhutto had also contacted officials, diplomats and friends in America, Europe and the Gulf to urge Musharraf to improve her security following the suicide bomb attacks that killed more than 140 during her homecoming parade on October 18.