Dubai Former prime minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto's staff members in her house here were mourning her death after the immediate family members left for Pakistan earlier Thursday evening.
A worker of Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party who was at her mansion in Emirates Hills told XPRESS that Bhutto's family members, including her husband Asif Zardari, sons Bilawal and Bakhtawar and daughter Asifa left for Dubai airport to catch a flight to Pakistan.
Bhutto's 85-year-old mother Nusrat was still at the mansion and the news of her daughter's assassination was not revealed to her due to her medical condition, the party worker added.
Three Filipina staff members were seen crying outside the mansion. “I don't want to say anything,'' said a Filipina as she came out of the mansion. She said that she was waiting for the Pakistani embassy to issue her an emergency visa and she was on her way to the airport.
Another servant at the Bhutto household said the staff members heard about the tragedy when Pakistani TV channels broke the story earlier Thursday evening. “I was sitting outside when I heard the news,'' said Allahbaksh who is with the family for the last one year.
“She was a simple lady,'' said Rene Nones, a maintenance engineer who worker next door to her residence. “We saw her walking around the Emirates Hills exercising and she even was a member of our house masters gatherings at villa P27,'' he added.
A small group of journalists camped outside Bhutto's sand colour mansion. Two police cars were parked outside the house. The policemen told media persons not to talk to the staff members and said no photography was allowed.
The two-storey mansion P 20 is located in the posh Emirates Hills neighbourhood. Her neighbours were apparently not aware of the tragedy as loud music from a nearby villa echoed the neighbourhood.
UAE condemns Bhutto killing
The UAE Thursday condemned the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and called on the people of Pakistan to unify ranks in the face of a vicious terror.
"The UAE is appalled by this great loss, which is not only a tragic loss for the people of Pakistan but also for the entire UAE people", said UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Pak community rattled
"I'm speechless. This is my wedding day," said Faraz Javed (not his real name), 28, a construction consultant, who is getting married in Dubai said.
"We're all in a strange mood. I hope my relatives back home are alright."
A Sharjah-based businessman in Rawalpindi's twin city – and Pakistani capital – Islamabad made "last minute" calls to his friend here before scrambling for cover from "indiscriminate retaliatory gunfire," said Zubair Haider, a media relations executive for a UAE perfumery.
"I was about to join him there soon for holiday but that's definitely out of the picture now," Haider, 28, said.
"We live in a town on the outskirts of Rawalpindi. We are visiting our four sons here – the fifth went back to start a business in Islamabad but we haven't been able to get through to him following the blasts, which took place around 6pm local time," said elderly couple Zafar and Maimunah Tirmadhi.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Association Dubai cancelled its social agendas, like a communal barbeque, over the weekend and put all other plans "on indefinite hold," said spokesman M. Asadullah.
Bhutto had retuned to her country after an eight-year long voluntary exile in London and Dubai, following allegations of corruption in Pakistan.
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf had promised her immunity from prosecution and struck a power-sharing deal prior to her arrival, also marred by violence – a double bombing of her welcome procession killed over 100 people.