The cavalcade of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto was attacked by terrorists in Karachi. Two explosions left 140 dead and over 500 wounded. Ms. Bhutto was shaken but uninjured in the blast. A variety of Islamist terrorist organizations threatened Ms. Bhutto not to return to Pakistan. The New York Sun reports Pakistani intelligence sources acknowledging “three specific plots to kill Ms. Bhutto.” The Economic Times quotes Bhutto’s husband, Asif Zardari, accusing the terrorists had assistance from elements within the military or intelligence agencies:
Zardari accused the ISI of being behind the blasts, while some party supporters blamed the ruling PML(Q) for the blasts. Ms Bhutto herself accused supporters of Pakistan’s late military ruler Mohammed Zia ul-Haq for masterminding the bomb blasts in which more than 130 people were killed. According to reports, in an interview published in French on the internet site of Paris-Match magazine, Ms Bhutto said she had no doubt that members of the former Zia regime were responsible for the attack.
Here is an assortment of reports:
To the adoring clamour of hundreds of thousands of her supporters gathered in Karachi—and as many groans across the country—Benazir Bhutto, a former prime minister, returned to Pakistan on September 18th after an eight-year self-imposed exile. “This is not just a journey for me,” she declared before landing, “but the beginning of a journey for the people of Pakistan for a better future.” She sobbed on the runway. A huge bullet-proof lorry, known as the “BB-mobile”, was waiting to ferry her to the tomb of the country’s founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
Ms. Bhutto, who looked remarkably composed despite her close brush with death, said the government had also received intelligence reports from a “brother country” of the deployment of four Al-Qaeda suicide squads to kill her.
The Daily Times
Before her arrival, Ms Bhutto was perceived to have lost significant support stemming from her staunchly pro-US statements, her lack of opposition to President Gen Pervez Musharraf, and the amnesty ordinance which allowed her return. Indeed, tribal militant Baitullah Mehsud had promised to dispatch suicide bombers to “welcome” her. He has since distanced himself from the Karachi carnage.
Express of India
Investigators’ main focus will be on who sent Friday’s suicide bomber. Government officials have already asserted that the culprits were Islamist militants, but they are uncertain which group. Pakistani Taliban fighters working with al Qaeda earlier this month made assassination threats against Bhutto, who has talked of working with Musharraf to fight militancy and extremism. But Bhutto, at a news conference on Friday, said she had more to fear from un-named members of the Pakistani power structure who she described as allies of the ‘forces of militancy’. She said she had given their names to Musharraf, and wasn’t blaming the government at this stage.
Times of India
Police were questioning three men over the attack on former Pakistani premier Benazir Bhutto’s motorcade with investigations revealing evidence suggesting that the suicide bomber was not alone and was accompanied by four or five accomplices.
Three men from Punjab province were taken in for questioning on Saturday night after being linked to a car from which an attacker allegedly threw a grenade at Bhutto’s motorcade.
Newsweek: “Pakistan: Where the Jihad Lives Now”