Pakistan: Bullets Did Not Kill Bhutto

In this photo combination released by the Pakistani Government Friday, Dec. 28, 2007, the vehicle that former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto occupied is shown. Bhutto, 54, was killed Thursday, Dec. 27, 2007, 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, and a surgeon who treated her said she died from the impact of shrapnel on her skull. (AP Photo/Pakistani Government) AP Photo/Pakistani Government

Benazir Bhutto died from a skull fracture suffered when her head slammed against her car during a suicide attack - not from bullet wounds, the government said Friday.

Authorities on Thursday said Bhutto died from bullet wounds fired by a young man who then blew himself up, killing 20 other people. A surgeon who treated her said Friday she died from the impact of shrapnel on her skull.

But later Friday, Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema said all three shots missed her as she greeted supporters through the sunroof of her vehicle, which was bulletproof and bombproof.

He also denied that shrapnel caused her death, saying Bhutto was killed when she tried to duck back into the vehicle, and the shock waves from the blast knocked her head into a lever attached to the sunroof, fracturing her skull.

At a news conference, Cheema played a videotape of the attack showing Bhutto waving, smiling and chatting with supporters from the sunroof as her car sat unmoving on the street outside a campaign rally. Three gunshots rang out, the camera appeared to fall, and the tape ended.

Bhutto was slain while campaigning for the crucial Jan. 8 parliamentary elections in which she hoped to return as prime minister of the nuclear-armed country, a key U.S. ally in the war on terrorism. Upon her return from exile in October, she survived an assassination attempt. She had repeatedly complained that the government of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf did not give her adequate security.

Also Friday, Cheema said the government recorded an "intelligence intercept" in which militant leader Baitullah Mehsud "congratulated his people for carrying out this cowardly act." He gave no further details on the nature of the intercept.

Cheema described Mehsud as an "al Qaeda leader" and said he was also behind the Oct. 18 bombing against Bhutto's homecoming parade through Karachi that killed more than 140 people.
  • CBSNews

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.