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Force of blast killed Bhutto: Scotland Yard

According to a NYT report, the British police find that the Pak Oppn leader was killed by the force of a suicide bomb and not bullet.

world Updated: Feb 08, 2008 22:21 IST
Kamal Siddiqi

Benazir Bhutto may not have been struck down by a bullet, after all. The report of the Scotland Yard team, which probed the former Pakistani PM's death, released on Friday, said she died from the force of the suicide blast that occurred immediately after the bullet went off. It concludes that the same lone attacker who fired at her also detonated the explosives causing the blast, which led to her death on December 27 at Rawalpindi.

The report, virtually corroborating the Pakistan government”s initial position on the cause of her death said the blast made Bhutto hit her head against some part of the vehicle, resulting in fatal injuries.

“In essence, all the evidence indicates that one suspect has fired the shots before detonating an improvised explosive device,” said an executive summary of the report, signed by Detective Superintendent John MacBrayne of the Scotland Yard. “The blast caused a violent collision between her head and the escape hatch area of the vehicle, causing a severe and fatal head injury.”

The report however added the caveat that the team”s investigation was hampered by “lack of an extended and detailed search of the crime scene, the absence of an autopsy, and the absence of recognised body recovery and victim identification processes.”

However, the “evidence that is available is sufficient for reliable conclusions to be drawn,” it said.

The Scotland Yard team of forensics and other experts had spent two and a half weeks in Pakistan in January at the invitation of President Pervez Musharraf.

The report notes from X ray records of Bhutto”s skull that her only apparent injury was a major trauma to the right side of her head. The experts felt this injury could have come from the entry or exit wound caused by a gunshot.

There were no X rays available of any other part of her body. However, the possibility of a bullet wound in her mid or lower trunk “can reasonably be excluded,” the report said, basing its conclusion on the protection afforded by the armoured vehicle in which she was travelling at the time of the attack, and the accounts of her family and the hospital staff who examined her.

PPP disagreesBhutto”s Pakistan People”s Party disagreed with Scotland Yard”s findings about her murder and still believed she was killed by an assassin”s bullet, a party spokeswoman said. “The party is still looking at the Scotland Yard report — however, it is difficult to agree with its findings on the cause of death,” Sherry Rehman said.