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Pakistan's Bhutto Seeks International Help for Bomb Investigation


Pakistan's former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is calling for international assistance in the investigation into the bomb attack that killed more than 130 of her supporters in Karachi on Friday. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from Islamabad that Ms. Bhutto also said she would continue to reach out to the public, despite the risks.

A defiant and occasionally emotional Benazir Bhutto told a group of reporters gathered at her home in Karachi that although she would modify her campaign logistics because of the attack, she would still meet the public.

She said she pledges to save Pakistan by restoring democracy and bringing about a government that empowers the poor.

Pakistani officials have said they do not expect the bombing to alter the date for national elections scheduled for January.

Meanwhile, investigators said they are questioning several people for information about the attack, including prison inmates who were convicted in a 2006 suicide bombing in Karachi.

Ms. Bhutto said she wants international assistance from investigators who have experience in terrorist bombings. She also repeated allegations that streetlights along her motorcade route may have been deliberately turned-off.

The home secretary of Sindh province, which includes Karachi, told VOA there is no evidence the lights were intentionally disabled.

"I do not think it was deliberate. On that particular day those should have been on. We tried to convey to the utility that they should remain [in] working condition," said Mohtaram.

Mohtaram says power outages are common in Karachi with blackouts occurring as often as 30 days a year. He acknowledged there had been complaints the streetlights were not working earlier in the evening, but said television footage shows streetlights were illuminated at the time of the attack.

On Sunday Ms. Bhutto visited a Karachi hospital where many of the more than 200 wounded are being treated. She was accompanied by heavy security and did not make a public statement.

Shops and businesses across Sindh province remain closed for three days of mourning. Witnesses said people were burning tires and throwing rocks in several Karachi neighborhoods, but no casualties were reported.

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