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Musharraf: Troops told to shoot

  • Story Highlights
  • Troops instructed to shoot anyone disrupting next month's elections
  • Musharraf says troops will be patrolling the streets during the elections
  • Violence in Pakistan has claimed 58 lives and cost more than $200 million
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ISLAMABAD (CNN) -- Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said that his government will instruct troops to shoot anyone trying to disrupt next month's parliamentary elections, according to the state-run news agency.

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Musharraf said troops will be patrolling the streets during and after the elections.

Musharraf was speaking to a group of businessmen and bankers in Karachi on Monday -- the same day that a bomb exploded in an industrial area of the city, killing 10 people and injuring 45 others, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported.

"Let me assure you we are going to instruct the Rangers and Army to shot miscreants during elections," the APP quoted Musharraf as saying.

"We will not allow this activity to happen again," Musharraf said, referring to the December 27 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Musharraf said troops will be patrolling the streets during and after the elections, adding that the country cannot afford to take another economic hit such as the one it suffered following Bhutto's assassination. The ensuing violence caused more than $200 million (12 billion Pakistani rupees) in damages and claimed at least 58 lives, government officials said.

The February elections, pushed back from their original date of January 8, are crucial for Pakistan and for Musharraf.

The country of 164 million people is the second most populous Muslim nation after Indonesia and has been battling Taliban sympathizers since 2003.

Musharraf, who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999, has seen his popularity at home plummet as a wave of bombings continues to plague the country since security forces seized a mosque in the capital city of Islamabad last July.

More than 100 people were killed when troops stormed the Red Mosque compound to rout Islamic extremists who want to establish a Taliban-style rule across the capital.

Monday's blast in Karachi -- the commercial capital of the country -- occurred about 8 p.m. local time among fruit and vegetable stalls. A motorcycle was likely being used to transport the bomb, which was packed with ball bearings and bullets, police said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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