Musharraf orders firm action against rioters: state media

ISLAMABAD (AFP) — Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf ordered security chiefs to take firm action against rioters following the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, state media said.

Musharraf gave the directive at a meeting of senior officials including the heads of the army and other security agencies, as well as the country's caretaker prime minister, the Associated Press of Pakistan news agency said.

"Elements who wish to exploit the situation by looting and plundering must be dealt with firmly and all measures be taken to ensure safety and security of the people," it quoted him as saying.

Musharraf said that shops, chemists and petrol stations were shut down "due to the fear of hooligans and looters", causing difficulties for the Pakistani people.

"While the entire nation was in mourning over the tragic death of... Benazir Bhutto, miscreants and anti-social elements cannot be allowed to damage lives and property of the common man in the guise of protest," he said.

He ordered law enforcement agencies "to take serious note and ensure early return to normalcy".