Pakistani police cordon off Bhutto home

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ISLAMABAD, Nov 9 (Reuters) Pakistani police cordoned off the home of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto today and sealed off a park in Rawalpindi where she was due to hold her first rally since President Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule.

A senior official in Islamabad said police had cordoned off Bhutto's home in the city but only for her protection.

''It has been done purely for security reasons. There are no restrictions on her movement,'' said the official, who declined to be identified.

A suicide bomb attack on a procession in Karachi to welcome Bhutto home on October 18 killed 139 people.

A Bhutto party spokeswoman, Sherry Rehman, said Bhutto was not under house arrest but police had surrounded her home.

Army chief Musharraf imposed emergency rule last Saturday citing a hostile judiciary and rising militancy in the nuclear-armed US ally.

But Musharraf, who took power in a bloodless 1999 coup, said yesterday general elections would be held by February 15, about a month later than they were due.

He also said he would quit as army chief and be sworn in as a civilian president once the Supreme Court ruled whether he was eligible to stand for re-election last month while still army chief.

However, two-time prime minister Bhutto, who returned from more than eight years of self-imposed exile last month, said she wanted more than vague statements on the elections.

REUTERS AM BD1030

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