(AFP) – Dec 28, 2007
ISLAMABAD (AFP) — 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.
Bhutto's death after a suicide bomber blew himself up at her campaign rally has plunged this nuclear-armed Islamic nation into turmoil, but the ministry said she would have lived if only she had stayed inside her car.
"If she had not come out of the vehicle, she would have been unhurt, as all the other occupants of the vehicle did not receive any injuries," ministry spokesman Brigadier Javed Cheema said.
He said the post-mortem on the populist opposition leader, whose funeral earlier Friday was attended by hundreds of thousands of mourners, found her mortal wound came when she tried to duck after the bomber attacked.
The bomber also apparently fired three times at her but missed, Cheema said.
When she ducked, she hit the lever of the sunroof of the car that was to speed her away from a campaign rally as she was gearing up to contest parliamentary elections set for January 8.
"The lever struck near her right ear and fractured her skull," Cheema said. "There was no bullet or metal shrapnel found in the injury."
Cheema showed a brief video of the moments before the attack and the blast itself but it was unclear.
He said intelligence services had intercepted a call Friday from the man considered to be a top Al-Qaeda figure for Pakistan, Baitullah Mehsud, congratulating a militant after Bhutto's death.
He said there was "irrefutable evidence that Al-Qaeda, its networks and cohorts are trying to destabilise Pakistan".
"We have recorded his conversation in which he is congratulating a militant for the attack," Cheema said, adding that Mehsud was also behind the suicide attack on Bhutto's homecoming rally in October that killed 139 people.
"He is responsible for most of the attacks that have taken place in the country," the spokesman said, calling for national unity "to eliminate the proponents of death and destruction who are trying to destabilise Pakistan."
Pakistani authorities say Mehsud is based in the troubled tribal region of South Waziristan, where troops have been battling Islamist rebels since the fall of the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan in 2001.
Mehsud had until recently been described by officials as the top pro-Taliban militant commander in the region but is increasingly said to have links to bin Laden's Al-Qaeda group.
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