Saturday, December 29, 2007

Pakistan - 40 dead in riots after Bhutto's death

Unknown assassin - a man appears to shoot Benazir Bhutto

Al-Qaeda has been blamed for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, by the Pakistani authorities. But the Pakistani People’s Party has disputed this and instead partly blamed the authorities for failing to provide proper security [BBC]. The leader of a pro-Taleban group has also denied any involvement. Maulana Omar, a commander of a pro-Taleban group based in Pakistan said Baitullah Mehsud, an al-Qaeda leader identified by authorities, had nothing to do with the attack. Speaking to news agencies by phone on Saturday he said, "He [Mehsud] had no involvement in this attack. This is a conspiracy of the government, army and intelligence agencies."[Al Jazeera].

There has also been much dispute over the way in which Ms Bhutto died. Authorities have said she died not from gunshot wounds, but from a head wound after colliding with the side of the sunroof. The confusion of the facts surrounding the incident has led to further distrust of the current government with many saying there was a cover-up. Some have also called for her body to be exhumed in order to put the matter to rest [CNN / BBC].

Today, new pictures emerged that did at least confirm there was at least one assassin armed with a pistol. The still and video pictures show the man, wearing dark sunglasses, firing a number of shots just prior to an explosion [Sky News].

Violence on the streets of Pakistan has led to the deaths of at least 36 people, twice the number killed in Thursday’s attack, but security forces are beginning to crack down on the rioters [BBC]. There is a fear that the continuing violence may develop into a full scale civil war if it remains unchecked. The elections which were set for January 8th also remain in doubt.

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