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After eight years in exile, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan after receiving amnesty for the corruption charges that forced her to leave the country. Hundreds of thousands of supporters peacefully gathered along the path toward Karachi to welcome her home.
As Ms. Bhutto waved to onlookers from the top of an armored truck, a grenade exploded near the front of her vehicle. Moments later a second explosion ripped into the truck’s armor and the crowd—over 250 were injured and 136 were killed.
The former prime minister was protected from serious harm because she was inside the truck when the attacks occurred.
The officer leading the investigation reported that a suicide bomber first threw a grenade, which was quickly followed by the detonation of an explosive vest strapped to his chest. The officer also reported that the carnage was worsened because the explosives were packed with nuts, bolts and steel pellets.
The former prime minister told reporters she had received threats from extremist organizations such as the Taliban and al-Qaeda, prior to her return.
Ms. Bhutto was the first female prime minister of a Muslim country, holding the position for two separate terms. But the office was taken away due to allegations of corruption. Her return home precedes a possible January election, and comes after talks with the current president, General Pervez Musharraf, who leads the nation’s military-based government.
A product of the conversations was amnesty for both Ms. Bhutto and some of her closest allies. The talks have also fueled rumors that she and Gen. Musharraf may share power, rather than face each other in upcoming elections.
Earlier this year, there were rumors of an alliance between the current government and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which Ms. Bhutto leads. However, this was denied early in 2007 by Gen. Musharraf.
The general was re-elected for another five-year term as president at the beginning of October—a move that caused every opposition party to withdraw from parliament in protest, except the PPP. The Pakistani Supreme Court is questioning his re-election and candidacy. Only after rulings are rendered on both matters can an election date be set.
The recent attacks have prompted questions of whether any sort of agreement can be made between Gen. Musharraf and Ms. Bhutto, and whether any agreement will bring forth a stable, democratic government.