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Re: [prezveepsenator] Militants, Bhutto aides allege cover-up

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  • THOMAS JOHNSON
    Does anyone believe that Musharraf is not behind this and that he has become a full-blown dictator, orhas my cynicism got the best of me again? ... From: Greg
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 29, 2007
      Does anyone believe that Musharraf is not behind this and that he has become a full-blown dictator, orhas my cynicism got the best of me again?

      ----- Original Message ----
      From: Greg Cannon <gregcannon1@...>
      To: prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com; UTEP Progressives <utepprogressives@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Saturday, December 29, 2007 8:40:46 AM
      Subject: [prezveepsenator] Militants, Bhutto aides allege cover-up

      http://news. yahoo.com/ s/ap/20071229/ ap_on_re_ as/pakistan; _ylt=AoEuI. Fm3_t2aEvcw201Yo Os0NUE

      Militants, Bhutto aides allege cover-up

      By RAVI NESSMAN, Associated Press Writer 17 minutes
      ago

      ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - An Islamic militant group said
      Saturday it had no link to Benazir Bhutto's killing
      and the opposition leader's aides accused the
      government of a cover-up, disputing the official
      account of her death.

      The government stood firmly by its account of
      Thursday's assassination and insisted it needed no
      foreign help in any investigation.

      "This is not an ordinary criminal matter in which we
      require assistance of the international community. I
      think we are capable of handling it," said Interior
      Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema.

      Bhutto's aides said they doubted militant commander
      Baitullah Mehsud was behind the attack on the
      opposition leader and said the government's claim that
      she died when she hit her head on the sunroof of her
      vehicle was "dangerous nonsense."

      Cheema said the government's account was based on
      "nothing but the facts"

      Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham
      Clinton called for an independent, international
      investigation into Bhutto's death — perhaps by the
      United Nations — saying Friday there was "no reason to
      trust the Pakistani government."

      Attackers opened fire at a motorcade of Bhutto's
      supporters as they returned to Karachi after her
      funeral, killing one man and wounding two, said Waqar
      Mehdi, a spokesman for Bhutto's party. The government
      said mass rioting has killed 38 people and caused tens
      of millions of dollars in damage.

      In Rawalpindi, thousands of Bhutto supporters spilled
      onto the streets after a prayer ceremony for her,
      throwing stones and clashing with police who fired
      tear gas to try and subdue the crowd.

      President Pervez Musharraf told his top security
      officials that those looting and plundering "must be
      dealt with firmly and all measures be taken to ensure
      (the) safety and security of the people," the
      Associated Press of Pakistan reported.

      Pakistan's election commission called an emergency
      meeting for Monday to discuss the violence's impact on
      Jan. 8 parliamentary elections.

      Nine election offices in Bhutto's home province of
      Sindh in the south were burned to the ground, along
      with voter rolls and ballot boxes, the commission said
      in a statement. The violence also hampered the
      printing of ballot papers, training of poll workers
      and other pre-election logistics, the statement said.

      The U.S. government, which sees nuclear-armed Pakistan
      as a crucial ally in the war on terror, has pushed
      Musharraf to keep the election on track to promote
      stability, moderation and democracy in Pakistan,
      American officials said.

      Prime Minister Mohammedmian Soomro said Friday the
      government had no immediate plans to postpone the
      election, despite the violence and the decision by
      Nawaz Sharif, another opposition leader, to boycott
      the poll.

      Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party also called a meeting
      Sunday to decide whether to participate in the vote.
      Her widower, Asif Ali Zardari, told the British
      Broadcasting Corp. that their son would read a message
      left by Bhutto and addressed to the party in event of
      her death.

      Roads across Bhutto's southern Sindh province were
      littered with burning vehicles, smoking reminders of
      the continuing chaos since her assassination Thursday.
      Factories, stores and restaurants were set ablaze in
      Pakistan's biggest city, Karachi, where 17 people have
      been killed and dozens injured, officials said.

      Army, police and paramilitary troops patrolled the
      nearly deserted streets of Bhutto's home city of
      Larkana, where rioting left shops at a jewelry market
      smoldering.

      The government blamed Bhutto's killing on al-Qaida and
      Taliban militants operating with increasing impunity
      in the lawless tribal areas along the border with
      Afghanistan. It released a transcript Friday of a
      purported conversation between Mehsud and another
      militant, apparently discussing the assassination.

      "It was a spectacular job. They were very brave boys
      who killed her," Mehsud said, according to the
      transcript.

      But a spokesman for Mehsud, Maulana Mohammed Umer,
      denied the militant was involved in the attack and
      dismissed the allegations as "government propaganda."

      "The fact is that we are only against America, and we
      don't consider political leaders of Pakistan our
      enemy," he said in a telephone call he made to The
      Associated Press from the tribal region of South
      Waziristan, adding that he was speaking on
      instructions from Mehsud.

      Cheema said the government had evidence to back its
      claim.

      "I don't think anybody has the capability to carry out
      such suicide attacks except for those people," he
      said.

      Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party accused the government
      of trying to frame Mehsud, saying the militant —
      through emissaries — had previously told Bhutto he was
      not involved in the Karachi bombing.

      "The story that al-Qaida or Baitullah Mehsud did it
      appears to us to be a planted story, an incorrect
      story, because they want to divert the attention,"
      said Farhatullah Babar, a spokesman for Bhutto's
      party.

      After the Karachi attack, Bhutto accused elements in
      the ruling pro-Musharraf party of plotting to kill
      her. The government denied the claims. Babar said
      Bhutto's allegations were never investigated.

      Bhutto was killed Thursday evening when a suicide
      attacker shot at her and then blew himself up as she
      left a rally in the garrison city of Rawalpindi near
      Islamabad. The attack killed about 20 others as well.
      Authorities initially said she died from bullet
      wounds, and a surgeon who treated her said the impact
      from shrapnel on her skull killed her.

      But Cheema said she was killed when she tried to duck
      back into the armored vehicle during the attack, and
      the shock waves from the blast smashed her head into a
      lever attached to the sunroof, fracturing her skull,
      he said.

      "We gave you absolute facts, nothing but the facts,"
      he said. "It was corroborated by the doctors' report.
      It was corroborated by the evidence collected."

      Bhutto's spokeswoman Sherry Rehman, who was in the
      vehicle with her boss, disputed the government's
      version.

      "To hear that Ms. Bhutto fell from an impact from a
      bump on a sunroof is absolutely rubbish. It is
      dangerous nonsense, because it implies there was no
      assassination attempt," she told the BBC.

      "There was a clear bullet wound at the back of the
      neck. It went in one direction and came out another,"
      she said. "My entire car is coated with her blood, my
      clothes, everybody — so she did not concuss her head
      against the sun roof."

      The government said it was forming two inquiries into
      Bhutto's death, one to be carried out by a high court
      judge and another by security forces.

      ____

      Associated Press writers Zarar Khan in Larkana,
      Sadaqat Jan in Islamabad, Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera
      Ismail Khan and Afzal Nadeem in Karachi contributed to
      this report.


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