Developments in Benazir Murder Investigations

Benazir murder
Teen suspect handed over to Punjab police
By Javed Aziz Khan; The News,January 22, 2008

PESHAWAR: The 15-year-old boy arrested from Dera Ismail Khan is likely to be produced before the investigators of Scotland Yard as he was handed over to Punjab police late Monday night, sources confided to The News.

The teenager, Aitzaz Shah of Mansehra, has disclosed that the suicide attack on Benazir Bhutto had been carried out by Bilal while Ikram Mehsud was the one who had fired at the former prime minister outside Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi on December 27. The accused claims Ikram Mehsud is still alive, sources disclosed. If true, this would be a revelation and could add a new twist to the investigation into the murder of Benazir Bhutto.

The government had claimed after the murder of Ms Bhutto that they have intercepted a telephone conversation between Baitullah Mehsud and one of his commanders who have mentioned the name of Ikramullah and Bilal in their discussion as the two attackers.

“A team of Punjab police and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) headed by DIG Khalid Qureshi and comprising an SP and two DSPs came to Dera Ismail Khan on Monday where they were handed over the teenager, who has made headlines in media after claiming to be part of the squad tasked to kill the chairperson of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP),” the sources revealed.

These sources continued that Aitzaz would be taken to Islamabad early Tuesday morning. The NWFP Home Department issued a No Objection Certificate (NOC) on Monday regarding the handing over of the accused to the Punjab police.

“The Scotland Yard investigators are likely to quiz him there to find out if he really had links to the attack or the group that was involved in the high-profile murder,” sources maintained. “The accused is still insisting he was part of the back-up team assigned to kill the PPP chairperson. Though he seems to be a troublemaker, some investigators suspect his statement to some extent,” the sources said.

Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was killed soon after she left Liaquat Bagh after addressing an election rally there on December 27. A number of other people were also killed in the suicide blast, aimed at killing the former premier.

It has been learnt that the Dera Ismail Khan police raided the house of a suspended political Moharrar of Waziristan Sher Zaman and recovered four hand grenades, detonators and explosive bricks from there.

“Sher Zaman is said to be a key member of a militant group and Aitzaz Shah who is a Hafiz-e-Quran and originally belongs to Mansehra was on his way to meet him at his Dera residence on the day when he was arrested by police. A driver has also been held,” sources revealed.

The FIA and a team of Frontier police claimed to have found out some leads that could help them reach the network behind the suicide blast at Imambargah Mirza Qasim Baig in Mohallah Jhangi on 7th of Muharram. At least 13 persons were killed and over 20 others injured in the blast.

Our Mansehra correspondent adds: Police and other law enforcing agencies raided the house of Aitzaz Shah at Singal Kot Chinar Kot in Konish valley and arrested his uncle Nazir Shah.

According to sources Aitzaz belongs to a very poor family and his father is a labourer in a factory in Karachi. The teenager had disappeared from his home for the last one year.

AFP/NNI add: Interior Secretary Syed Kamal Shah confirmed on Sunday that the arrests — the first in connection with Bhutto’s assassination — had been made and investigations were continuing.

“Yes they were arrested from Dera Ismail Khan and they are being investigated,” Shah told AFP. “We are looking into all aspects and we are not saying anything unless it is corroborated through investigations,” Shah said when asked if both had given some clues about Bhutto’s assassination.

“There is yet no evidence that the other suspect belongs to any terrorist group, but they had some agenda of terror as heavy cache of explosive have been recovered from their possession,” Kamal Shah told Geo television. Aitzaz Shah, 15, has conceded that he was a would-be bomber, the secretary added.

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