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Pakistan unrest kills more than 20

  • Story Highlights
  • 23 deaths occur in Benazir Bhutto's home province, Sindh
  • Soldiers given shoot-to-kill order in Sindh province
  • "Things are cooling down," provincial official says
  • Nine also reported killed in explosion in North West Frontier province
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(CNN) -- More than 20 people were killed when supporters of slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto took to the streets of Pakistan in a furious display of grief and outrage.

Benazir Bhutto supporters in Peshawar burn items from the party that backs President Pervez Musharraf on Friday.

Figures for fatalities across the country varied, but 23 deaths were reported in one province alone: Sindh, Bhutto's home and her main base of support.

"It's all mayhem everywhere," Shehryar Ahmad, an investment banker in Karachi, told CNN by telephone Thursday night. "There's absolutely no order of any kind. No army on the streets. No curfew."

Paramilitary forces in the southern Pakistani province were told to "shoot on sight" anyone causing civil disturbances, a spokesman for the Pakistan Rangers said.

The army was called out to the city of Karachi, which is in Sindh province. Video Watch Pakistanis grieve over Bhutto »

"At this moment, things are cooling down," Brig. Ghulam Mohatarem, the secretary of the province's Interior Ministry, told CNN. "The army has been brought in but there's no curfew."

Mohatarem said the bulk of the deaths resulted from two incidents: 12 people were trapped inside and died when protesters ransacked a bank and burned it to the ground, and six workers died when a factory in Karachi was torched. Photo See images of disturbances »

The workers apparently had stayed at the factory overnight because a strike to protest Bhutto's killing has crippled the city, officials said.

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"The political agitators were joined by all kinds of criminals," Mohatarem said. "Because you know, political agitators won't be looting jewelry shops or banks or the treasury."

Mohatarem said trains had also been torched and government buildings vandalized in his province. Some homes had also been broken into, he said. A hospital and a medicine factory were also ransacked.

More than 5,000 rangers were deployed to maintain law and order in 10 big cities, including Rawalpindi and Lahore, the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan said. Rangers are usually responsible for securing the country's borders.

The government planned to deal "sternly" with rioters and looters to prevent further instability in the country, said Brig. Javed Iqbal Cheema, spokesman for Pakistan's Interior Ministry.

"If we resort to these things (looting and arson), we are exactly fulfilling the agenda of the terrorists," Cheema told reporters Friday.

Elsewhere, nine people were killed and several injured in an explosion outside a public gathering in the North-West Frontier province, APP reported.

Police told state-run news service that they did not know if the explosion in the district of Swat was the work of a suicide bomber or was triggered by a remote-control device. Among those killed was a former provincial minister.


Mohsin Naqvi of CNN said the blast was at a public gathering of supporters of President Pervez Musharraf's political party.

U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, and Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-Rhode Island, left Pakistan early Friday, cutting short their visit on the advice of the State Department, The Associated Press reported. They had planned to meet with Bhutto and Musharraf on Thursday. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2007 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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