December 28, 2007

Still Murky On Assassination Details (Update: Sharif Wants Election Suspended)

UPDATE: While many have speculated that Pervez Musharraf might cancel the elections -- and Congress has demanded that they continue -- the surviving opposition leader wants them canceled (scroll down):

Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif said Friday if the government went ahead with parliamentary elections next month, it will “destroy the country. If the government is adamant about holding elections on January 8, it is going on a self-destructive path which will not only destroy the government itself but will also destroy the country,” he said.

Sharif, who narrowly avoided an assassination attempt yesterday as well, had wanted to boycott the elections unless Musharraf stepped down and/or restored the judiciary. Benazir Bhutto forced him to give up the boycott, but now that she has been assassinated, he may fall back to that position. He now wants Musharraf to step down as president before any elections get held.

That may leave Congress in a strange position, demanding an election that neither Pakistan's ruling party nor its opposition wants. What will Congress say in response to Sharif?

UPDATE II: The first wire report on the skull fracture comes from AFP, which also notes a rather significant development that points to al-Qaeda:

Pakistan's interior ministry said Friday that Benazir Bhutto was killed after smashing her head on her car's sunroof while trying to duck, and that no bullet or shrapnel was found inside her.

The ministry also said it had intercepted a phone call from a top Al-Qaeda figure congratulating a militant for the attack on her Thursday, and said there was "irrefutable evidence" the group was trying to destabilise the country.

Had she not popped up out of the sunroof, she would have survived the explosion. Of the car's occupants, only Benazir Bhutto sustained any injuries.

Original post follows ....


The details of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto have come out fitfully and tend to contradict themselves. This usually happens in these kind of circumstances, and so far the news agencies have gamely attempted to keep up, with mixed results. CNN, for instance, offers an eyewitness perspective from a photographer who heard shots -- and the page carries a banner that says no bullets hit Bhutto after all:

"I ran up, got as close as I got, made a few pictures of her waving to the crowd," Getty Images senior staff photographer John Moore told CNN's online streaming news service, Live, in a phone interview Thursday from Islamabad, Pakistan.

"And then suddenly, there were a few gunshots that rang out, and she went down, she went down through the sunroof," he said. "And just at that moment I raised my camera up and the blast happened. ... And then, of course, there was chaos."

While that narrative doesn't necessarily conflict with the breaking news from Pakistan, it does make it a little less clear how she could have died in this assassination attempt. According to Moore, Bhutto dropped back into the vehicle when the shots rang out, just before the explosion. The armored vehicle should have protected her from the explosion.

Now, however, the Pakistani government claims that Bhutto didn't die from shrapnel or bullets at all. Instead, they claim that she fractured her skull on a lever inside the roof of her vehicle when the bomb exploded. At the same time, CNN's headline on their front page claims she was killed by shrapnel. It's a mess, and until an complete autopsy report gets released, we'll continue to see the contradictions in the media reports.


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» How did she die? And what happens to the nukes? from Public Secrets: from the files of the Irishspy
There have been conflicting reports in the press about how Benazir Bhutto was killed. Earlier today, the New York Sun carried a story that implied a serious infiltration of Pakistan's intelligence service by al Qaeda: The attack yesterday at Rawalpindi [Read More]

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