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Bhutto leaves Karachi, visits ancestral home

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  • Benazir Bhutto visits ancestral home in her first journey outside Karachi
  • Bhutto suspects some regime members over last week's bombing
  • Bhutto says she has asked the government for more protection
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(CNN) -- Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto left the southern port city of Karachi on Saturday for the first time since surviving an attempted assassination last week that turned her homecoming motorcade into a scene of carnage, sources within her political party told CNN.

Bhutto waved to thousands of people who greeted her after she flew in to Sukkur, a city north of Karachi in the Sindh province, her sources said.

Security was reportedly much tighter Saturday, but video footage showed a throng of supporters and journalists around her vehicle, where she poked her body through the SUV's sunroof.

From the airport, her motorcade headed to her ancestral village of Garhi Khuda Baksh near the city of Larkana, where the 54-year-old opposition leader visited her constituency and paid homage to her father -- the country's first democratically elected prime minister who was deposed and executed in a military coup.

The decision to make the trip to her stronghold in southern Pakistan was, as she described, "a very big dilemma."

"I do not want to risk the life of another single person, but my colleagues and I have thought long and hard and we feel that if we will not take the risks of traveling, then in fact the militants and their sponsors, organizers and financiers will succeed in stopping the democratic process," Bhutto said earlier this week.

The suicide bombing that targeted her convoy in Karachi last Thursday killed at least 130 people hours after her arrival in Pakistan, which ended eight years of self-imposed exile.

Yet, undeterred by death threats, Bhutto on Saturday donned her trademark white headscarf and greeted crowds who tossed pink rose petals onto her SUV, and backers who clutched the red, green and black flags of her Pakistan People's Party. Video Watch a report on Bhutto's visit to her ancestral home »

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Bhutto has vowed to lead her political party into January's general elections and gain a third term as prime minister, possibly under a power-sharing deal with President Pervez Musharraf, who in recent months has been losing political support at home.

Bhutto's decision is a move many view as crucial for steering the nation toward a more democratic path. But her critics say she has a poor record of governance and her deal-making with Musharraf's military government has compromised hopes for democracy in Pakistan.

In recent days she has accused elements in the government and security services of trying to kill her and has asked Musharraf for "basic security," including permission to use vehicles with tinted windows, and private guards in addition to police guards.

Her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was a charismatic Prime Minister in the 1970s, but was seized in a military coup and executed in the face of international protests after being found guilty in the murder of a political opponent in 1974. She herself was imprisoned at that time for five years -- some of it spent in solitary confinement -- before finding sanctuary in London.

Nearly a decade later she returned to her homeland to eventually become the Muslim world's first democratically elected female prime minister at age 35. Less than two years later she was ousted amid allegations of corruption, her rule opposed by Islamic traditionalists and much of the military.

While back in Pakistan just over a week, Bhutto already has received an up-close and personal picture of the insurgency problems plaguing the nation.

Bhutto's trip Saturday occurred as violence flared in Pakistan's North West Frontier province -- a remote region along the Afghan border that is considered a Taliban stronghold.

A suicide attacker targeting a police truck killed 24 people -- most of them police -- on Thursday in Mangora, located in the Swat district where Pakistan's army recently deployed 2,500 troops to maintain law and order.

The increased troop presence comes at the request of the provincial government, an army spokesman said.

Swat is part of Pakistan's tribal regions where the military has stepped up its campaign against Taliban and al Qaeda militants. In turn, the militants have increased their attacks, primarily against the military.

Over the summer, Musharraf vowed to "fight against extremism and terrorism no matter what province."

"We will finish it off in every corner of the country," he said.

Nevertheless, U.S. officials have expressed concern over Pakistan's stability and its effectiveness in suppressing terrorism.

Pakistan has been accused of allowing al Qaeda and Taliban militants to have free rein, after pulling some of its forces out of the region in a deal with pro-Taliban tribal chiefs last year. Under that agreement, the tribal leaders agreed not to harbor any terrorists.

Militants in the area have since said the truce reached with the Pakistani government in September 2006 is off. President Bush's homeland security adviser, Fran Townsend, echoed those sentiments in July, saying "that agreement has failed."

The deal has been blamed for an increase in attacks on U.S. troops over the border in Afghanistan, as Taliban fighters were able to prepare, train, and reconstitute weapons supplies without interference from the Pakistani government.

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The Taliban are the former Afghan regime that sheltered al Qaeda until the U.S.-led war following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

U.S. intelligence officials have said al Qaeda has established a "safe haven" in Waziristan, just over the border into Pakistan -- and that Osama bin Laden is believed to be in the area. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Syed Mohsin Naqvi in Lahore contributed to this report.

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

All About Benazir BhuttoPakistan Peoples PartyPervez MusharrafPakistan

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