Conflicting reports about what caused the death of former Pakistani Prime
Minister Benazir Bhutto are fueling questions about the circumstances of her
Benazir Bhutto died Thursday after a suicide bombing at a political rally in
Bhuttos political party disputed official versions of the incident, accusing
the government of lying. Video footage of Thursdays attack on Bhutto contains a
murky shot of a hand firing a pistol three times, but the Pakistani government
said Bhutto who was standing through her vehicles sunroof was not hit.
The latest explanation Friday by Pakistans Interior Ministry said Bhutto, 54,
died from a fractured skull after hitting her head on a piece of the vehicle.
Immediately following the gunfire, a suicide bomber ignited explosives near
An Interior Ministry spokesman, Brig. Javed Iqbal Cheema, said Bhutto fell down
or perhaps ducked and apparently hit her head on a lever connected to the cars
sunroof. Cheema added that the lever was stained with blood.
Cheemas version of events conflicts with that of the governmentrun news agency
Associated Press of Pakistan, which at first quoted the Interior Ministry as
saying shrapnel from the bomb blast killed Bhutto. The suicide bomb killed more
than 20 others, and at least 100 were wounded.
On Thursday, an initial report from the Interior Ministry said Bhutto died of a
gunshot wound to the neck.
Dr. Mussadiq Khan of Rawalpindi General Hospital, who treated Bhutto before she
was declared dead, said she had a big wound on the side of her head that
usually occurs when something big, with a lot of speed, hits that area.
By the time Bhutto was brought to the hospital Thursday, she was not breathing,
she did not have a pulse, Khan said, and her eyes were not responding to light.
Doctors tried unsuccessfully to revive her by cardiopulmonary resuscitation, he
At a news conference, Cheema showed the video of Bhutto in the vehicle, standing
up in the sunroof and looking out at the surrounding crowd.
Farzana Raja of Bhuttos Pakistan Peoples Party said the governments
explanation is a pack of lies, and she offered another explanation. It was a
sniper shooting, she said, also accusing the government of a total security
CNN national security analyst Ken Robinson, who worked in U.S. intelligence in
Pakistan during the Clinton administration, said he suspects Bhuttos enemies
are attempting to control her legacy by minimizing the attacks role in her
Theyre trying to deny her a martyrs death, and in Islam, thats pretty
important, Robinson said.
Bhutto, he said, threatens to become more influential in death than she was in
life. Her torch burns bright now forever. Shes forever young shes forever
brave, challenging against all odds the party in power and challenging the
military and Islamic extremism.
Only if Bhuttos family allows an autopsy, said Robinson, will the world know
for certain the medical reasons behind her death. The Associated Press, quoting
Cabinet sources, said Bhuttos husband, Asif Ali Zardari, refused to permit an
autopsy before she was laid to rest Friday.
The Pakistani government pointed to Baitullah Mehsud, a tribal leader from
southern Pakistan known to have ties to alQaeda, as a prime suspect.
One senior U.S. official told CNN there is information ... that leads us to
believe he [Mehsud] is the guy responsible.
The official said Mehsud had been trying to get Bhutto for some time and
described him as one of the big players.
The Pakistani Interior Ministry also said it had intelligence intercepts
indicating Mehsud was behind Bhuttos assassination.
There have been no claims of responsibility for Bhuttos death on radical
Islamist Web sites that regularly post such messages from al Qaeda and other
Hundreds of thousands of people jammed streets Friday surrounding Bhuttos
funeral procession in GarhiKhuda Baksh. Violence after the attack has left at
least nine people reported killed and banks, train stations and cars torched.
Bhutto led Pakistan from 1988 to 1990 and from 1993 to 1996, but both times, the
sitting president dismissed her amid corruption allegations.
She was the first female prime minister of any Islamic nation.
A terrorist attack targeted her motorcade in Karachi in October on the day she
returned to Pakistan after eight years of selfimposed exile. Bhutto told
AlJazeera television she believed Mehsud may have been involved in that attempt
on her life, which killed 136 people.
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