Pakistan makes first arrests connected with Bhutto assassination

[JURIST] Pakistani police have arrested two suspects in connection with the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive], officials said on Saturday. Aitzaz Shah and Sher Zaman were detained in the town of Dera Ismail Khan on the Afghan border, and were found in possession of explosives according to local reports. Shah, a teenager, told Pakistani investigators that he had been a member of a back-up squad given the task of killing Bhutto if the December 27 attack had failed, and that he was part of a five-person team dispatched there by Baitullah Mehsud [BBC profile] to plan a suicide bombing during the Muslim festival of Ashura [BBC backgrounder]. Mehsud, a militant leader with strong ties to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, had already been named by sources inside both the CIA and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's government as being responsible for the attack, but a purported spokesman for the fugitive told reporters that he had played no part in the killing. AP has more. Dawn has local coverage.

Bhutto was assassinated [JURIST report] in a suicide attack on December 27 at a political rally in Rawalpindi. She was campaigning in the lead-up to January 8 parliamentary elections, where her party, Pakistan People's Party (PPP) [party website] was challenging Musharraf's Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) [party website]. The elections have been postponed until February 18.

 

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