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UN Strongly Condemns Bhutto Assassination, Calls for Calm


At the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the assassination of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and the Security Council held an emergency session to denounce her murder and call for calm. From VOA's New York Bureau, correspondent Barbara Schoetzau has the details.

Italian Ambassador Marcello Spatafora, the current head of the Security Council, says it was "absolutely necessary" to call a special Security Council meeting to quickly send a strong message to condemn the killing as a heinous act of terrorism and to pay tribute to Benazir Bhutto.

Secretary-General Ban attended the emergency session and welcomed the Council's statement.

"I am shocked and outraged by the assassination of former Prime Minister Mrs. Benazir Bhutto and many other civilians who have been killed by this terrorist suicide bombing. I call upon the government authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice," Mr. Ban said.

In the statement, read by Ambassador Spatafora, the Council called on Pakistan and the international community to bring the perpetrators to justice.

"The Security Council underlines the need to bring perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of this reprehensible act of terrorism to justice and urges all states in accordance with their obligations under international law to cooperate actively with the Pakistani authorities in this regard," Spatafora said. "The Security Council reaffirms that terrorism in all of its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivation wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed."

The statement also calls on Pakistanis to exercise restraint and maintain stability.

U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad described Ms. Bhutto as a symbol for moderation and the rule of law.

"Her death is a loss of the cause of moderation, democracy and rule of law for Pakistan," he said. "She was clear headed about the problems of her country, the challenges she faced, even the security challenges that she faced. I call for calm in Pakistan. I call for moderates to come together to present a united front against extremists and terror and for success of democracy and moderation in Pakistan.

Ms. Bhutto survived at least two other assassination attempts after returning home to Pakistan in mid-October from years in exile.