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Pakistani Leader Draws Family’s Ire After Police Kill Estranged Brother Death Deepens Split In Violence-Ridden Clan Of Benazir Bhutto

Zahid Hussain Associated Press

Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto mourned in seclusion Saturday as angered relatives and others blamed her for the family’s latest tragedy - the shooting death of her estranged brother.

Male mourners escorted the coffin of Murtaza Bhutto to the family graveyard, while, in keeping with Islamic tradition, women stayed behind to recite verses from the Koran, weep and console each other.

Benazir Bhutto remained with friends. Her mother, Nusrat, refused to see her, saying Bhutto and Bhutto’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari, are at fault for the death.

“If I am guaranteed justice I will register a case against Asif Ali Zardari and Benazir Bhutto for killing my son,” she told reporters outside her son’s home in Larkana. “They are responsible for the murder of my son.”

Murtaza Bhutto, 42, and six of his supporters were killed Friday in a gunfight with police in Karachi, 160 miles south of Larkana. A seventh supporter died later at a hospital.

Dozens of brightly colored flags were raised at the family graveyard Saturday and colorful shawls were strewn on the sun-drenched ground in a show of respect for the dead.

Murtaza Bhutto was buried between his father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was hanged in 1979 by a military dictator, and his younger brother, Shahnawaz, who died under mysterious circumstances in France in 1986.

Security was tight at the family graveyard, where an estimated 5,000 demonstrators condemned Benazir Bhutto. Mourners beat their chest, wailed and cried. They shouted anti-Benazir Bhutto slogans and vowed to take revenge.

“Today there are no more Bhuttos alive, the Bhutto family is ended,” mourner Khalid Ahmed said.

Bhutto and her brother had been at odds since he returned to Pakistan in 1993, ending a 16-year exile in Syria. They had barely spoken in six years and a July attempt at reconciliation was unsuccessful.

They fought for control of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, founded by their father nearly three decades ago. Murtaza Bhutto later established a breakaway faction of the party.

During the 1980s, he headed the militant Al-Zulfikar organization with the goal of toppling Pakistan’s military dictator Mohammad Zia-ul Haq, who had overthrown his father in 1977. Zia’s death in a mysterious plane crash in 1988 cleared the way for free elections.

After Benazir Bhutto came to power, she accused her brother of keeping Al-Zulfikar alive to destabilize her government. Last week, officials blamed the group for three bombings that killed one person in Karachi and injured several more.

“Now there is no one in the party to lead this faction,” Syed Mahmood Haider Naqvi, a longtime Murtaza Bhutto supporter, said Saturday.

He warned that the death would revitalize Al-Zulfikar, spawning splinter groups that “indulge in terrorist activities.”

Hundreds of paramilitary troops and police patrolled the streets around Murtaza Bhutto’s sprawling family compound Saturday. An armored personnel carrier was parked outside.

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