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Bhutto suspects use of 'Child suicide bomber'

The former Pak premier gives a new twist to last month's Karachi bombings that claimed nearly 140 lives.

world Updated: Nov 05, 2007 14:39 IST

Giving a new twist to last month's Karachi bombings that claimed nearly 140 lives, former premier Benazir Bhutto has said that a "child suicide bomber" followed by a car bomb might have been used in an attempt to assassinate her.

"Although it remains difficult to know for certain, I doubt that a suicide bomber was involved in the attack on me. I suspect, after talking to some of the injured, that the terrorists used a 'small child' as a ploy to get to me," Bhutto wrote in commentary for CNN.

"They (terrorists) were trying to hoist the child -- dressed in the colours of my party's flag -- onto my truck," Bhutto said, adding failing to do so they dropped the child near her vehicle.

"Some witnesses said the child had been rigged as a human bomb. I can't be sure. What followed was a massive explosion, killing scores immediately, tearing many bodies in half and sending blood, gore and flames up into the vehicle," she said.

"In less than a minute a second bomb -- reports later suggested a car bomb -- went off," she wrote.

Bhutto survived unhurt when the blasts killing nearly 140 people took place near her armoured truck in a huge procession she led in Karachi after setting foot on Pakistani soil on October 18 for the first time in eight years.

Questioning as to why the investigation were initially given to a police officer who was present when her husband was nearly tortured to death in 1999, she said the most worrying was the "adamant rejection by Islamabad of any assistance from the state-of-art forensic teams from FBI and Scotland Yard.

"There are precedents in Pakistan for such international assistance. Such teams were called in to investigate the mysterious and sudden death of Army Chief General Asif Nawaz and the Egyptian Embassy bombing in the '90s," Bhutto said.

She had called in international experts when her brother Murtaza was killed in what she said: "I believed was a conspiracy to destabilise my government in 1996."

But she absolved President Pervez Musharraf of a hand in it, saying the "sham" investigation of the massacre and the attempt by the ruling party to politically capitalise on this catastrophe are discomforting, but do not suggest his direct involvement.

It has now been more than two weeks since the "horrific assassination attempt" against her and the police have still not filed her complaint, she said, adding that they filed their own report without taking statements from eyewitnesses on the truck targeted.

"Soon thereafter, I was asked by authorities not to travel in cars with tinted windows -- which protected me from identification by terrorists -- or travel with privately armed guards," Bhutto said.

"I began to feel the net was being tightened around me when police security outside my home in Karachi was reduced, even as I was told that other assassination plots were in the offing," she wrote in the commentary.

But she said she refused to holed up in her home a virtual prisoner and went to her ancestral village of Larkana to pray at my father's grave.

She asked "why had the street lights been turned off? Was that intended to prevent my security from clearly seeing any approaching dangers? Is there any truth to the report that a high government official ordered the lights turned off "to prevent her getting so much television coverage"?

First Published: Nov 05, 2007 12:55 IST