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TTP claimed responsibility of Benazir Bhutto assassination

15 January, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: The outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has broken its silence over the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and claimed responsibility for the attack in a new book released on Sunday. Benazir Bhutto was killed in a suicide attack in Rawalpindi shortly after she addressed an election rally on December 27, 2007.

The then president Pervez Musharraf had blamed the TTP for the attack on Benazir Bhutto. Taliban had previously denied Musharraf’s claim. Officials in Musharraf government had also released an audio conversation between the two Taliban men who were talking about Benazir’s death.

No group had claimed responsibility for Benazir’s murder until the claim in the Taliban’s Urdu-language book ‘Inqilab Mehsood South Waziristan — From British Raj to American Imperialism’.

The book says suicide bombers Bilal, who was also known as Saeed and Ikramullah were tasked to carry out the attack on Benazir Bhutto on December 27.

“Bomber Bilal first fired at Benazir Bhutto from his pistol and the bullet hit her neck. Then he detonated his explosive jacket and blew himself up among the participants of the procession,” the book claimed.

Taliban leader Abu Mansoor Asim Mufti Noor Wali has written the book and published it on November 30, 2017, at ‘Maseed Computer Center in Barmal, in Afghanistan’s Paktika province, according to the details on the book. The 588-page book, which contains many photographs on the Taliban leaders, was posted online.

Military sources say most of the Pakistani Taliban belonging to Mehsood tribe had crossed into Afghanistan’s Paktika and Paktiya provinces after the military launched major offensive there in 2009.

The book says Taliban were also involved in the suicide bombing in the Benazir Bhutto’s procession in Karachi in October 2007, which had killed nearly 140 people but Benazir had survived.

“Despite attacks on Benazir Bhutto’s procession in Karachi, the government had not taken appropriate security measures that made it possible for the attackers to have easy access to Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi,’ the book says.

The book says Ikramullah, a resident of Makeen town in South Waziristan, escaped from the blast site and is still alive.

The book does not say anything if it is the same Ikramullah, who has been declared absconders by the anti-terrorism court (ATC) along with five others including Baitullah Mehsood, founder of the TTP. Baitullah was killed in a US drone strike along with his wife in South Waziristan in 2009.

Musharraf had been formally charged in the case and an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi in August 2017. The ATC also declared Musharraf an absconder in the case. The ATC had named Musharraf in the case in February 2011. Musharraf on a number of occasions denied any involvement and dismissed charges as politically-motivated.

The PPP co-chairman Bilawal Bhutto had again blamed Musharraf in his speech to his supporters on the 10th death anniversary of his mother on December 27, last year.

The five TTP suspects in Benazir’s murder case — Rafaqat Hussain, Husnain Gul, Sher Zaman, Aitzaz Shah and Abdul Rashid – were cleared of all charges in the murder trial last year in August. The ATC had, however, convicted two police officials Saud Aziz, who was police chief of Rawalpindi when Bhutto was assassinated in 2007, and Khurram Shahzad, a former Superintendent of Police at Rawal Town. They were each awarded 17 years jail term. In October 2017,Rawalpindi bench of the Lahore High Court had granted bail to both officers.

The book says that investigators had blamed TTP for the killing of Benazir Bhutto but Baitullah Mehsood had initially denied involvement, who had insisted that those people were behind her assassination who had murdered her father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and two brothers – Murtaza Bhutto and Shahnawaz Bhutto. Murtaza Bhutto was assassinated on September 20, 1996 in Karachi while Shahnawaz Bhutto died on 18 July 1985, in Nice, France.

The book said the TTP Mehsood leadership had refused any involvement until 27 December 2017, on her 10th death anniversary. The book covers the TTP’s history, its attacks, military operations in the tribal regions, TTP’s activities in Afghanistan, tribal system, Mehsood tribe role in the TTP, TTP operations in Karachi and its campaign against polio vaccination.

It has been revealed in the book that Baitullah had also approved attack on Benazir Bhutto’s procession in Karachi in October, 2007, when she returned to Pakistan to lead party campaign for the 2008 parliamentary elections.

“The return of Benazir Bhutto was planned on the behest of the Americans as they had given her a plan against the Mujahideed-e- Islam. Baitullah had received information of the plan,” the book claimed.

“So when Benazir Bhutto arrived in Karachi, two suicide bombers Mohsin Mehsood and Rehmatullah Mehsod carried out attacks on her procession at Karsaz area of Karachi,” the book revealed.

Benazir survived the bombing that occurred two months before she was assassinated in Rawalpindi. Most of the PPP supporters were massacred in the Karsaz attack.

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