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A Foreign Ministry spokesman said Saturday that Russia hopes elections planned
A Foreign Ministry spokesman said Saturday that Russia hopes elections planned for January 8 in Pakistan will go ahead as scheduled, despite the murder of the leading opposition figure Benazir Bhutto.

Mikhail Kamynin told the Vesti-24 TV channel: "We really hope the Pakistani authorities will manage to keep legal control of the situation, avoid a further escalation in the violence and hold the elections as scheduled."

He also said that if the situation in Pakistan, which has its own nuclear arsenal, went out of control it could lead to unpredictable consequences both for the country and region.

On December 27, the country was plunged into turmoil following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, who had twice been the country's prime minister and was about to run in parliamentary elections January 8 as leader of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP).

Thousands of Bhutto supporters took to the streets chanting anti-government slogans as protests spread across the country. Shops, offices, buses and even police stations have been attacked and set on fire leaving at least 30 people dead.

The Times of India newspaper cited Ghulam Mohammed Mohtaram, from the province's administration, as saying that 23 people had been killed in Bhutto's home region of Sindh, where Pakistani troops have been issued with 'shoot-to-kill' orders to deal with rioters.

Thousands of extra police and troops have been deployed to try and deal with the violence.

Russia has condemned the terrorist attack and urged Pakistan's political forces to exercise utmost restraint and not to respond to any provocation.

Russia's foreign ministry is warning Russian nationals against visiting Pakistan.


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