Killing of protester fans bitter feud in Bhutto family

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The Independent Online
LARKANA - The mother of Benazir Bhutto called her a dictator after police fired on supporters of the Pakistani Prime Minister's jailed brother, Murtaza, killing one person and wounding several others yesterday.

Police surrounding the home of Nusrat Bhutto, mother of Murtaza and Benazir, opened fire when about 300 supporters of Murtaza Bhutto tried to go to the grave of his father, the late prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, witnesses said. A government spokesman blamed the violence on 'agents provocateurs' and said police acted in self-defence after being fired upon from the roof of a house.

'Benazir Bhutto is responsible for all these incidents,' her mother said at the ancestral home. 'It was a brutal, ruthless attack . . . on unarmed people - it brings shame on Benazir Bhutto.

'What Zia ul-Haq the dictator used to do she (Benazir Bhutto) is now doing,' said her weeping mother, referring to the late military president who overthrew her husband in a 1977 coup and executed him two years later.

Benazir had declined to speak to her on the telephone, said her mother, who was dressed in black as a sign of mourning.

Simmering rivalry between Benazir, who is 40, and her mother erupted last month when the Prime Minister ousted Nusrat as chairwoman of the ruling Pakistan People's Party and was elected party head in the PPP's first internal poll since its formation in 1967. Nusrat, 63, said she would challenge her daughter's effective internal party coup and has accused the Prime Minister of calling the party election only as a cover for her takeover.

The Prime Minister yesterday visited the grave at Garhi Khuda Bakhsh, about 25 km (15 miles) from Larkana, where she prayed and laid a floral wreath over the tomb of her father on the 66th anniversary of his birth. She declined to comment on the violence.

Murtaza Bhutto's supporters kidnapped two policemen, one of whom later escaped, police said. More than 12,000 police had been brought in, they added.

'Murtaza is our leader, Murtaza is our hero,' supporters shouted at the Bhutto ancestral house. 'God help Murtaza.' Police stopped Nusrat Bhutto from leaving, forcing her car back into the compound at gunpoint.

Several hundred demonstrators marching through the town of Larkana towards the Bhutto home also came under tear-gas fire, and hundreds of police patrolled the streets. 'The day of celebration has been turned into a day of mourning,' Nusrat Bhutto said. 'I am very sad, I am very perturbed. This is not democracy, this is a police state . . . it's dictatorship fully and completely.'

Nusrat Bhutto said she was trying to contact the Prime Minister to arrange for a shooting victim to be taken to Karachi, where the country's best hospitals are located. 'I am trying to get the Prime Minister, my daughter, to help . . . but she is not available,' Mrs Bhutto said. 'She is at a football match.'

Nusrat accuses her daughter of usurping the party leadership which she said should have been inherited by her sole surviving son, Murtaza, 39. He was arrested on terrorism charges when he returned to Pakistan in November from Syria after 16 years of self-imposed exile.

(Photograph omitted)

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