ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Peoples Party rejected government claims that a Taliban commander linked to al-Qaeda was behind the assassination of its leader Benazir Bhutto, as the death toll from rioting rose to 32. The government “is trying to divert the investigations into Bhutto’s killing,” Farhatullah Babar, her spokesman, said in a phone interview today.
“Mehsud had already denied he planned to assassinate Bhutto,” he said. Cheema cited a taped conversation of the Taliban leader, in which he congratulates a friend for Bhutto’s death. “Very brave boys” took part in the assault, Mehsud said, according to a government transcript of the tape. “We had no involvement in this attack,” Maulana Omar, a spokesman for Mehsud told correspondents. “We express our deep grief and shock over her death,” he added.
“If the government had accepted our demand of holding an independent inquiry by overseas experts into the Oct. 19 bombing on Bhutto, this would not have happened,” Babar said. Bhutto was buried yesterday in the family mausoleum in Garhi Khuda Baksh, in the southern province of Sindh, about 480 kilometers (298 miles) north of the commercial capital, Karachi, as troops were sent to quell riots across Pakistan.
At least 32 people have been killed in two days of rioting across the south Asian country, AAJ television channel reported today. Angry mobs put factories, shops, petrol stations, banks and hundreds of cars on fire in Karachi today and yesterday, the broadcaster said. “The doctors told us that Bhutto died of two bullet wounds,” Bhutto’s spokesman Babar said. PPP Information Secretary, Sherry Rehman, said she was with Bhutto when the attack happened and saw the bullet wounds when she bathed the body before burial.-SANA