Police abandoned their security posts shortly before Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto’s assassination Thursday, according to a journalist present at the time, and unanswerable questions remain about the cause of her death, because an autopsy was never performed.
Pakistan’s Interior Minister on Friday said that Bhutto was not killed by gunshots, as had been widely reported, and doctors at Rawalpindi General Hospital, where she died, say there were no bullet marks on the former prime minister’s body, according to India’s IBNLive.com. Furthermore, according to the news agency, there was no formal autopsy performed on Bhutto’s body before she was buried Friday.
CNN is now reporting that it wasn’t gunshots or shrapnel that killed Bhutto, but that she died from hitting the sunroof of the car she was riding in. The network said sources in Pakistan’s Interior Ministry said nothing entered her skull, no bullets or shrapnel.
Apparently there was some kind of lever on the sunroof she was standing through, and she hit her head on that CNN reported Friday morning.
Earlier in the day Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz told a Pakistani news channel, “The report says she had head injuries – an irregular patch – and the X-ray doesn’t show any bullet in the head. So it was probably the shrapnel or any other thing has struck her in her said. That damaged her brain, causing it to ooze and her death. The report categorically says there’s no wound other than that,” according to IBNLive.
Perhaps more shockingly, an attendee at the rally where Bhutto was killed says police charged with protecting her “abandoned their posts,” leaving just a handful of Bhutto’s own bodyguards protecting her.
“Police officers had frisked the 3,000 to 4,000 people attending Thursday’s rally when they entered the park, but as the speakers from Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party droned on, the police abandoned many of their posts,” wrote Saeed Shah in an essay published by McClatchy News Service. “As she drove out through the gate, her main protection appeared to be her own bodyguards, who wore their usual white T-shirts inscribed: ‘Willing to die for Benazir.'”
While some intelligence officials, especially within the US, were quick to finger al Qaeda militants as responsible for Bhutto’s death, it remains unclear precisely who was responsible and some speculation has centered on Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI, its military or even forces loyal to the current president Pervez Musharraf. Rawalpindi, where Bhutto was killed, is the garrison city that houses the Pakistani military’s headquarters.
“GHQ (general headquarters of the army) killed her,” Sardar Saleem, a former member of parliament, told Shah at the hospital.
Whatever the case, Bhutto’s precise cause of death may never be known because of the failure to administer an autopsy. The procedure was not carried out because police and local authorities in Rawalpindi did not request one, according to IBNLive, but the government plans a formal investigation why this was the case.
Musharraf initially blamed her death on unnamed Islamic militants, but Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz told The Associated Press on Friday that “we have the evidence that al-Qaida and the Taliban were behind the suicide attack on Benazir Bhutto.”
He said investigators had resolved the “whole mystery” behind the opposition leader’s killing and would give details at press conference later Friday.