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Nightmare cops feared comes true

world Updated: Oct 20, 2007 03:23 IST
Kamal Siddiqi

The joyous scenes that marked the arrival of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto after her eight-year exile turned to mayhem when two bomb exploded simultaneously in the midst of the procession following her a few minutes after midnight on Thursday.

"Most of the injured have serious burn injuries," says Rizwan Edhi, of Edhi Welfare Trust, one of the organisations that helped in the rescue operation. Though Bhutto herself was unhurt, many leaders of her Pakistan People's Party (PPP) were hurt too.

This was precisely the nightmare that senior police officials had all along feared. The blast led to a stampede on the Sharea Faisal Road, which runs from the airport to the city, injuring many more.

Bhutto was immediately driven away in a jeep to Bilawal House, her Karachi residence, where other top PPP leaders who were not injured, too arrived later.

The first bomb explosion occurred close to Karsaz Bridge. Bhutto's security guard Ali who was injured said both the blasts occurred in quick succession right in front of the vehicle carrying Benazir. The explosion was of even greater intensity and killed many more.

When the blasts occurred, Bhutto had fortunately descended from the roof of her vehicle, from which she had been waving to crowds, into its lower confines. The vehicle was bullet proofed, and protected her.

PPP supporters, who had gathered in large numbers at the hospitals to which the injured were taken, chanted slogans against the government. Following the twin explosions, the massive PPP meeting planned at the Quaid-e-Azam's mausoleum was cancelled.