People's Party 'told Musharraf about four plots to kill Bhutto'

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The Independent Online

Pakistan's government said yesterday it did everything it could to protect the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto on her return to the country – an occasion that ended with the death of more than 130 people after a suicide bomber tried to kill her.

Ms Bhutto said that before her return, her Pakistan's People's Party (PPP) had passed to the government the details of four separate suicide cells it had learned were intending to attack her.

But yesterday a government minister said it had done everything it could. "I think we should stop playing blame games. The government provided the best possible security to her," the Deputy Information Minister, Tariq Azim, told AP. He said officials were considering banning political rallies ahead of the vote to "counter threats to security". "

The disagreement between Ms Bhutto's camp and the government of General Pervez Musharraf came as she met with her senior aides to decide how to proceed with her plan to campaign for upcoming parliamentary elections. Ms Bhutto had planned to travel in convoy to her ancestral home near Larkana, in the interior of Sindh province, but the attack had prompted a rethink. "Everything is up in the air," said her spokeswoman, Sherry Rehman. "The plans are in review. We are not sure when she will go ... She still wants to go."

If Ms Bhutto does travel to Larkana, it is almost certain she will avoid the kind of slow-moving procession, surrounded by crowds, that was attacked in the early hours of Friday morning, killing 136 people and injuring hundreds more. She is more likely to fly there.

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