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Bhutto's Party Rejects Government Account of Her Death


The political party of slain former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has rejected the official account of her death and accused the government of trying to cover-up its failure to protect her.

The government said Friday Ms. Bhutto died of a massive head injury suffered while trying to duck back inside her vehicle when a suicide bomber triggered an explosion Thursday. The government also said an intelligence intercept indicated that a wanted al-Qaida terrorist, Baitullah Mehsud, was behind the assassination.

Senior officials with Ms. Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party called the government's version of the events "lies." A top aide, Sherry Rehman, who was involved in washing Ms. Bhutto's body for burial, said the former prime minister had a bullet wound to the head.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Mehsud also denied the militant leader was involved in the killing.

In a related development, Pakistan's Election Commission says continuing deadly unrest since Ms. Bhutto's assassination has adversely affected preparations for parliamentary elections scheduled for January eighth.

At least 31 people died in riots and violent protests since the killing of Ms. Bhutto, who was buried Friday in her home province of Sindh.

Pakistan has begun two high-level investigations of the assassination - one by police and forensic experts and the other by the country's judiciary.

Terrorist leader Mehsud, one of Pakistan's most wanted men, is believed to be based in the South Waziristan region, near the Afghan border. He also was blamed for the suicide attacks on Ms. Bhutto's motorcade in Karachi in mid-October that killed more than 140 people.

In Washington, the U.S. State Department said the United States believes all Pakistani political factions should support their country's election process.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.