THT 10 YEARS AGO: Benazir Bhutto assassinated

Rawalpindi, December 27, 2007

Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in a suicide attack today as she drove away from a campaign rally just minutes after addressing thousands of supporters.

The death of Bhutto, a former prime minister, threw the campaign for the January 8 election into chaos and stirred fears of mass protests and an eruption of violence that was already brewing across the volatile nation.

Suspicion for the attack was almost certain to fall on Islamic militants. President Musharraf condemned the attack and urged calm in the wake of Bhutto’s killing, according to the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan.

He convened an emergency meeting with his senior staff, where they were expected to discuss whether to postpone the election, an official at the Interior Ministry said. Bhutto, 54, had served as prime minister between 1988 and 1996.

As news of her death spread, supporters at the hospital in Rawalpindi smashed glass doors and stoned cars. Many chanted slogans against Musharraf, accusing him of complicity in her killing. In Rawalpindi, the site of the attack, Bhutto’s supporters burned election posters from the ruling party and attacked police, who fled from the scene. Violence also broke out in Lahore, Multan, Peshawar and many other parts of Pakistan, where Bhutto’s supporters set fire to a bus, threw stones at shops and blocked city roads.

Nawaz Sharif, another former premier and leader of a rival opposition party, rushed to the hospital and addressed the crowd.

Over 12,000 PLA combatants fail UNMIN’s test

Kathmandu, December 27, 2007

Of the 32,350 Maoist combatants registered, only 19,602, 15,756 men and 3,846 women have passed UNMIN’s test.

UMMIN submitted its final report on monitoring of arms and armies, including the verification report of the Maoists fighters, to the government and the CPN-Maoist today for discussion in the Joint Monitoring Coordination Committee (JMCC).

The report said 12,648 fighters of the Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA) stationed at seven different cantonments, have been disqualified. Martin said some 8,640 personnel, who did not appear for verification interviews in the second phase, were automatically disqualified. Some 2,973 fighters, who have been disqualified, were under the age of 18 as of May 25, 2006.

A statement issued at the press conference said 4,008 persons “remain to be discharged” from cantonments after taking into account the total number of absentees. UNMIN’s current mandate expires on January 23. Martin also said that an additional 932 persons, who had not been registered in the first phase, were presented for the verification process in the second phase, and 679 of them were verified as members of the Maoist army.