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Government accused of cover-up; al-Qaida deny any involvement

Government accused of cover-up; al-Qaida deny any involvement

Islamic militants said yesterday they had no link to Benazir Bhutto's assassination, dismissing government claims that a leader of pro-Taliban forces in Pakistan orchestrated the suicide attack on the opposition leader.
Bhutto's aides also said they doubted that militant commander Baitullah Mehsud was behind the attack, and accused the government of a cover-up.
The dispute, along with conflicting reports about Bhutto's exact cause of death, were expected to further inflame the violence wracking the nation two days after Bhutto was killed in a suicide attack.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf told his security chiefs yesterday to end the riots, saying those looting and plundering "must be dealt with firmly," the Associated Press of Pakistan reported.
Pakistan's election commission called an emergency meeting for tomorrow to discuss the impact on upcoming parliamentary elections. Pakistani Prime Minister Mohammedmian Soomro said Friday the government had no immediate plans to postpone the poll.
Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party called its own meeting today to decide whether to participate in the vote. Her widower, Asif Ali Zardari said their son would read out a message left by Bhutto and addressed to the party in event of her death.
Nawaz Sharif, leader of another opposition party, has said he would boycott the election.
The government blamed Bhutto's killing on al-Qaida and Taliban militants.
But a spokesman for Mehsud, Maulana Mohammed Umer, denied the militant was involved in the attack and dismissed the allegations as "government propaganda ... We strongly deny it. Baitullah Mehsud is not involved in the killing of Benazir Bhutto," he said. "The fact is that we are only against America, and we don't consider political leaders of Pakistan our enemy," he said, adding he was speaking on instructions from Mehsud.
The Pakistan government would let the body of Benazir Bhutto be exhumed for inquiry if her party requested it, Pakistan interior ministry spokesman Brigadier Javed Cheema said yesterday.


Updated : 2021-01-23 04:34 GMT+08:00