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Video contradicts govt view on Bhutto's death

Press Trust of India  |  Islamabad 

A dramatic new footage of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's assassination today lent credence to the claim by Pakistan People's Party that she was shot dead - a version vehemently contradicted by the government.

The footage aired by Britain's Channel 4 and subsequently beamed by Pakistani TV channels showed that Bhutto, who stood at the sun-roof of her bulletproof vehicle, had fallen into the car after shots were fired and before a suicide bomber detonated explosives after the Rawalpindi rally on Dec 27.

This was contrary to the government's account that the force of the blast had thrown Bhutto against a metal lever on the car's sun-roof, causing a fatal skull fracture.

Bhutto's close aide Sherry Rehman and other PPP workers, too, has dismissed the government's stand saying their leader had died after being shot in the head.

As the gunman - a clean-shaven youth wearing a white shirt, dark waistcoat and dark glasses - opened fire, Bhutto's hair and scarf appeared to rise before she fell into the car.

The shooter was a few metres from Bhutto when he opened fire from the left side of her vehicle. This was followed by the blast.

The new video, which came a day after photos emerged of an armed youth shooting Bhutto, will strengthen suspicion that the government was trying to cover up the extent of the lapses in Bhutto's security.

Some people are even comparing the footage to the famed Zapruder film, which captured the last moments before the assassination of US President John F Kennedy in 1963 and sparked numerous conspiracy theories.

The earlier photos had showed the shooter was accompanied by another man who had his face covered with a white cloth and is suspected to be the suicide bomber.

Akbar Hussein, a man who witnessed the assassination, said: "I have seen that Benazir was shot by a gun. I am 100% sure that Benazir was killed by a gun shot."

A ballistics expert told Channel 4 that the new video appears to show the exact moment when Bhutto was struck by a bullet. "If we look at the proximity of the aggressor to the victim, and we take into account which side of the victim the aggressor could be seen, and then we see that the scarf and the base of (Bhutto's) head lifts very suddenly without any other related movement," said expert Roger Gray.

"It suggests to me very strongly that there was a concussion on that side, or in other words, it looks very much like she was struck from a bullet on the left hand side, low down on the head."

The footage shows hundreds of people gathered round Bhutto's car and at least three policemen standing at the rear of the vehicle made no effort to hold back the surging crowd.

Experts have said that Bhutto made a fatal mistake by appearing at the sun-roof as she could have survived the blast if she had remained within the armoured vehicle.

The interior of the car was not damaged by the blast and no other occupant was hurt.

(Reporting by Rezaul H Laskar)


First Published: Mon, December 31 2007. 14:40 IST