Bhutto Buried; Pakistan Implicates Al-Qaida Figure

Supporters of assassinated Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto demonstrate in downtown Rome i i

Supporters of assassinated Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto demonstrate in downtown Rome Friday. Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images
Supporters of assassinated Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto demonstrate in downtown Rome

Supporters of assassinated Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto demonstrate in downtown Rome Friday.

Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images

Bhutto Campaigned Despite Risk of Attack

Benazir Bhutto had been warned by President Pervez Musharraf and others not to campaign so publicly, but she remained defiant. "I put my life in danger and came here because I feel this country is in danger," she said Thursday. Read more about security at the rally and details of the attack.

Asif Ali Zardari (in white cap), husband of former Pakistani premier Benazir Bhutto, and his son Bil i i

Asif Ali Zardari (in white cap), husband of former Pakistani premier Benazir Bhutto, and his son Bilawal (left) lower her coffin into the grave after her funeral prayers at Ghari Khuda Baksh. Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images
Asif Ali Zardari (in white cap), husband of former Pakistani premier Benazir Bhutto, and his son Bil

Asif Ali Zardari (in white cap), husband of former Pakistani premier Benazir Bhutto, and his son Bilawal (left) lower her coffin into the grave after her funeral prayers at Ghari Khuda Baksh.

Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images

A History of Violence

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's death at the hands of an assassin is a tragic event but not a completely unexpected one. Life for Pakistani politicians is fraught with danger, and has been since the country's founding. Read on.

A Brief Bhutto Bio

  • Born June 21, 1953, into a wealthy landowning family in southern Pakistan
  • Daughter of a former prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was executed in 1979 after being deposed in a military coup
  • Studied politics and government
  • Two-time prime minister
  • Left country in 1999 to avoid corruption charges
  • Eight years of self-imposed exile
  • Recent return was targeted by suicide bombing that killed more than 140 people
  • First woman to lead a modern Muslim nation
  • Hoped to lead pro-Western, democratic government against Islamic militants
  • Had talked with President Musharraf of a possible power-sharing deal
  • Brother Murtaza died in a gunbattle with police in Karachi in 1996
  • Youngest brother, Shahnawaz, died under mysterious circumstances in France a decade earlier
  • Hours after the opposition leader was laid to rest, Pakistani officials said they have proof al-Qaida and the Taliban were responsible for Benazir Bhutto's death.

    Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema said the government recorded an intelligence intercept in which militant leader Baitullah Mehsud congratulated his followers on the assassination.

    "We have the evidence that al-Qaida and Taliban were behind the suicide attack on Benazir Bhutto," Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz said.

    Cheema described Mehsud as an al-Qaida leader who was also behind the October bomb blast against Bhutto that killed more than 140 people in Karachi. He also said there would be two inquiries into Bhutto's death — one by a high court judge and another by security forces.

    Bhutto was killed Thursday when a suicide attacker shot at her and then blew himself up as she left a rally in Rawalpindi.

    Authorities initially said she died from bullet wounds to the head and neck; a surgeon who treated her said she died from the impact of shrapnel on her skull.

    Cause of Death Changed

    On Friday, the Interior Ministry said Bhutto had neither been shot nor hit by shrapnel, but had been killed when the force of the explosion smashed her head against a lever on the sunroof of her vehicle.

    Cheema said she tried to duck back into the vehicle, and the shockwaves from the blast smashed her head into the lever, fracturing her skull.

    Cheema said Pakistani security forces would hunt down those responsible for her death. "They will definitely be brought to justice," he said.

    Hundreds of thousands of mourners in Pakistan joined Bhutto's funeral procession, accompanying the simple wooden coffin to her family's mausoleum in the southeastern province of Sindh.

    Mobs rampaged through several cities. Many people blamed the government of President Pervez Musharraf for the attack.

    The death of Bhutto, a two-time prime minister of Pakistan who was hoping to regain power following eight years in exile, plunged the country into turmoil and threatened to derail U.S. hopes to restore democracy in the nuclear-armed Islamic nation.

    Her supporters torched cars, trains and stores in violence that killed at least 27 people. Thursday's attack on Bhutto also killed 20 others.

    Prime Minister Mohammedmian Soomro said Friday the government had no immediate plan to postpone the Jan. 8 parliamentary elections, despite the growing chaos and a vow by Bhutto rival Nawaz Sharif, also an ex-prime minister, to boycott the poll.

    "Right now, the elections stand where they were," Soomro told a news conference. "We will consult all the political parties to take any decision about it."

    Bhutto's funeral procession began Friday afternoon at her ancestral residence in the southern town of Nadir. Her coffin — draped in the red, green and black flag of her Pakistan Peoples Party — was carried in a white ambulance toward her family's massive white mausoleum in Garhi Khuda Baksh, several miles away.

    She was to be interred next to her father, also a popular former prime minister who met a violent death, said Nazir Dhoti, a spokesman for Bhutto's party.

    "She was not just the leader of the PPP; she was a leader of the whole country. I don't know what will happen to the country now," said Nazakat Soomro, 32.

    Charred vehicles burned in overnight rioting lay at the roadside in the town.

    A mob in Karachi looted three banks and set them on fire, police said. About 7,000 people in the central city of Molten ransacked banks and a gas station, and threw stones at police, who responded by firing tear gas. About 100 protesters burned tires in a commercial quarter of the capital, Islamabad.

    Paramilitary rangers were given the authority to use live fire to stop rioters from damaging property in southern Pakistan, said Maj. Asad Ali, the rangers' spokesman.

    Death Sparks Violence

    Violent mobs burned 10 railway stations and several trains across Sindh province, forcing the suspension of all train service between the city of Karachi and the eastern Punjab province, said Mir Mohammed Khaskheli, a senior railroad official. The rioters uprooted one section of the track leading to the Indian border, he said.

    About 4,000 Bhutto party supporters rallied in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Friday and several hundred of them ransacked the office of the main pro-Musharraf party, burning furniture and stationery. The office was empty, and no one was hurt.

    Protesters, carrying flags of the Pakistan Peoples Party, shouted "Musharraf dog" and "Bhutto was alive yesterday; Bhutto is alive today!"

    Musharraf blamed the attack on the resurgent Islamic militants Pakistan is fighting along the border with Afghanistan, pledging in a nationally televised speech that "we will not rest until we eliminate these terrorists and root them out."

    But authorities said they had yet to identify the attacker.

    "It is too early to say who may have been responsible," said Saud Aziz, the chief of police in Rawalpindi, where the attack took place. A joint task force of police and officials from other law enforcement agencies was investigating, he said.

    In Washington, FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said the agency was trying to determine the validity of a purported claim of responsibility by al-Qaida.

    President Bush, who spoke briefly by phone with Musharraf, denounced the "murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan's democracy."

    From NPR reports and The Associated Press

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