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Death toll in Pakistan riots reaches 38
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A spokesman from Pakistan's Interior Ministry said Saturday that the rioting across the country had killed 38 people and injured 52 others.


Speaking at a news briefing, Brig. Javed Cheema said the riots also caused tens of millions of U.S. dollars in damage across the country, with 174 banks being burnt.


The overall situation in the country was satisfactory on Saturday, Cheema said, warning that nobody would be allowed to take laws into his own hand.


Cheema said criminals took advantage of the tense situation in the country following the death of former prime minister and chairperson of People's Party (PPP) Benazir Bhutto.


A spokesman of militant leader Baitullah Mehsud said on Saturday that they were not involved in the assassination of Bhutto and termed the allegation of their involvement as propaganda of the government.


Replying to a question about Baitullah Mehsud's claim, Cheema said that it was up to the people to believe the government or Baitullah. He added that the body of Bhutto could be exhumed to perform postmortem if the supporters of PPP gave a nod.


Bhutto was killed in a suicide attack on Thursday. After addressing an election rally in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, Bhutto was leaving the venue of the public meeting when she met a group of supporters. She stood up and waved to her supporters from the sunroof of her car and then the suicide bomber launched the attack.


Violence prevailed in the country when angry supporters of PPP took to the streets, burning vehicles, trains and banks, destroying election materials and looting shops. Most of the shops, banks and gas stations remained closed for fear of riots in some sensitive cities in the country, resulting in inconvenience for people.


(Xinhua News Agency December 30, 2007)

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