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More Arrests Reported in Pakistan; Bhutto Prepares For Friday Protest

The Pakistan People Party of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto says police have arrested hundreds more of its supporters. Party officials say the arrests are aimed at sabotaging a Friday rally called to protest President Pervez Musharraf's declaration of emergency rule, as VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from Islamabad.

A spokeswoman for the Pakistan People's Party, Farzana Raja, says more than a thousand party supporters are now under arrest, mostly in the country's most populous province, Punjab.

She says the authorities continued rounding up party organizers overnight. While Ms. Bhutto called on people Wednesday to submit to arrest in order to protest the emergency decree, party leaders want a successful turnout at Friday's rally in Rawalpindi.

"For that reason, the main leadership and office bearers have gone underground [into hiding], and they are not available to the police so they can't arrest them," said Raja.

Law enforcement officials were unable to confirm the large-scale arrests when contacted by VOA. But police officials in Rawalpindi, the headquarters of Pakistan's armed forces, have said they will enforce the emergency laws, which ban such demonstrations.