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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 December 2007, 14:57 GMT
Musharraf cracks down on rioters
Police confront protesters in Pakistan

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has ordered firm action to crack down on unrest following the death of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

Mr Musharraf said looters "must be dealt with firmly and all measures be taken to ensure [the] safety and security of the people".

Some 38 people have died in violence that has broken out since Ms Bhutto was assassinated on Thursday.

Meanwhile, her party has rejected the government's explanation of her death.

A government spokesman said her head was slammed against her vehicle by the force of a bomb - but colleagues said she died from bullet wounds.

Pakistan is at the brink of civil war, courtesy of the dictatorship
Dr Rubab Ahmed, London

Troops have been deployed onto the streets to try to quell the violence that has broken out since Ms Bhutto's death.

The shells of burned cars littered the deserted streets of Ms Bhutto's home city of Larkana on Saturday, after overnight rioting.

Interior ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema said rioting across the country had destroyed 176 banks, 72 train cars and 18 railway stations, while at least 100 prisoners had been sprung from jails.

Election in doubt

Nine election offices in Ms Bhutto's home province of Sindh were also reportedly burned to the ground.

Pakistan's election commission called an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the impact on parliamentary elections due on 8 January.

Benazir Bhutto
Father led Pakistan before being executed in 1979
Spent five years in prison
Served as PM from 1988-1990 and 1993-1996
Sacked twice by president on corruption charges
Formed alliance with rival ex-PM Nawaz Sharif in 2006
Ended self-imposed exile by returning to Pakistan in October
Educated at Harvard and Oxford

Interim Information Minister Nisar Memon told the BBC that "we remain on course for the democratic transition", but that a decision on whether polls should be postponed would be made in consultation with all the political parties.

The government, meanwhile, stood by its account of Ms Bhutto's death.

Interior ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema said on Friday that she was killed when the force of the bomb blast knocked her head against a fitting on her vehicle.

A surgeon who treated her, Dr Mussadiq Khan, said earlier she may have died from a shrapnel wound, while her aides insisted she was killed by two bullets, one of which pierced her head.

A spokeswoman for her Pakistan People's Party accused the government of trying to minimise its responsibility for Ms Bhutto's safety, and said the official account was "dangerous nonsense".

Militant blamed

But Brigadier Cheema said: "We gave you absolute facts... corroborated by the doctors' report."

He said Ms Bhutto's family was free to exhume her body for a post mortem if it saw fit.

Ms Bhutto was buried on Friday at her family's marble mausoleum.

Baitullah Mehsud photographed in 2005

Brig Cheema also said Pakistan did not need the help of the international community in investigating the assassination.

And he again accused a Pakistani militant, Baitullah Mehsud, of ordering the killing.

The tribal leader from South Waziristan, who has close links to al-Qaeda, has denied the accusations through a spokesman.

But Brig Cheema said: "We have the evidence that he is involved. Why should he accept that he has done it? It does not suit him. I don't think anybody has the capability to carry out such suicide attacks except for those people."

Footage of Ms Bhutto's final moments

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