Source AP ©

Benazir Bhutto to travel to her home town to pray at her father's tomb

A week after the deadly suicide blasts that shattered her return to Pakistan, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was battling a fever at her Karachi residence on Thursday but planning to travel to her hometown to pray at her father's tomb.

"Benazir Bhutto's program has been finalized. She will going to Larkana on Oct. 27," said spokesman Jamil Soomro.

Bhutto's plans have been shrouded in secrecy since the Oct. 18 bombing killed 136 supporters who gathered to welcome her home from an eight-year exile. She has since stayed at her heavily guarded Karachi home, receiving visitors and meeting with leaders of her Pakistan People's Party.

Soomro said there were no plans to hold a public meeting in Larkana as Bhutto faced continued death threats. He provided no further details of her trip to the city, about 430 kilometers (270 miles) northwest of here. Her father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, another former premier, is entombed there.

Earlier this week, Bhutto said she would avoid mass rallies because of the risk of further bombings, but vowed to meet the public across the country. She plans to contest parliamentary elections slated for January, after which she could strike an alliance to fight Islamic extremism with President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Party spokesman Farhutallah Babar said the opposition leader was recovering from a high fever and would meet with party leaders at her house Thursday.

Meanwhile, a new chief investigator into the attack began his first day on the case following the withdrawal of his predecessor, whom Bhutto accused of being present while her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, was tortured in custody on corruption charges in 1999.

Saud Mirza, the chief of criminal investigations in Karachi, will now head the five-man team probing the bomb, said Ghulam Muhammad Mohtarem, the home secretary of Sindh province.

Bhutto, who escaped injury in the bombing, has blamed Islamic militants for the attack on her, but has also accused elements in the government and the security services of complicity, demanding international experts be called in to help in the investigation - a call rejected by the government.

The new appointment changes nothing and the inquiry remains inadequate, said Babar.

"Our concerns were the inquiry should be conducted by international experts and that has not happened. The more it gets delayed the more the crucial evidence will be lost," he said.

Authorities say it was likely carried out by two suicide bombers, and have released a picture showing the head of one of the bombers but have yet to identify him. Officials say at least 15 people are in the custody of security agencies for questioning, but it's unclear if any of them are possible suspects.

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