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Bhutto calls election fraudulent

Benazir Bhutto's party suffered a stunning defeat at the hands of her right-wing foes in parliamentary elections Wednesday, unofficial returns indicated. The electoral rout was widely seen as a verdict on her dismissal as prime minister less than a month ago.

She refused to concede defeat and accused the army-backed caretaker government of large-scale fraud in what most analysts and opinion polls had predicted would be a close contest.

Bhutto apparently won her own race for a seat in Parliament.

A spokesman for a 40-member group of international poll watchers refused comment until the group assembled. Their assessment could affect hundreds of millions of dollars in vital U.S. economic and military aid.

"I'm angry and shocked at the way elections have been rigged," Bhutto, 37, told reporters in Larkana, her ancestral home in southern Pakistan. "The president has made a mockery of these elections. It wasn't even subtle."

She predicted "a witch hunt" against her and her supporters would follow.

At least nine people were killed and 66 injured in clashes between rival parties during the balloting, despite unprecedented security.

Election officials said turnout among the estimated 50-million eligible voters was unusually light _ in many places less than 10 percent.

More than 1,300 candidates vied for 217 seats in the National Assembly, the policy-making lower house of Parliament that will choose the next prime minister. Two independent candidates were elected unopposed.

President Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismissed the Bhutto government on Aug. 6 after she had been in power 20 months. He accused her of heading the most corrupt and inept government in Pakistan's history.