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Pakistan suicide bomber strikes lawyers rally for ousted chief justice

[JURIST] A suicide bomber struck a lawyers' protest over the ousting of suspended Pakistan Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry [official website; JURIST news archive] in Islamabad Tuesday, killing at least 13 people and wounding at least 40. Chaudhry was not present at the time of the attack, which appeared to be aimed at his supporters. Witnesses told the BBC that the bomber attacked near supporters of the opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP) [party website]. The motive for the attack is still unknown. The PPP had recently distanced itself from right-wing Islamic parties opposed to Pakistan President Musharraf [official website]. PPP also supported the decision to storm the Red Mosque last week, which drove out hard-line Islamists who advocated adopting Sharia law as the country's legal system.

This was not the first rally for Chaudhry to turn violent. In May, clashes sparked by the arrival of Chaudhry caused the deaths of 39 people [JURIST report]. The government says Chaudhry misused his influence [JURIST report] to obtain jobs and promotions for his son. Officials have already indicated other charges may follow [JURIST report]. Many Pakistani lawyers and opposition leaders believe Chaudhry's March suspension was an indirect bid by Musharraf to continue his eight-year rule in an election year. BBC News has more. AFP has additional coverage.

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