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Bhutto Blames Taliban, Al Qaeda For Attack

From from those fans of terrorism at the Associated Press:

Bhutto blames deadly attack on militants


KARACHI, Pakistan – Former Prime Minister Benezir Bhutto, her return from exile shattered by a suicide attack that killed up to 136 people, blamed militants Friday for trying to kill her and said she would not “surrender our great nation” to them.

Bhutto said there were two attackers in the deadly bombing, and that her security guards found a third man armed with a pistol and another with a suicide vest. Ahead of her arrival, she said, she was warned suicide squads were dispatched to kill her.

“There was one suicide squad from the Taliban elements, one suicide squad from al-Qaida, one suicide squad from Pakistani Taliban and a fourth — a group — I believe from Karachi,” she said.

Baitullah Mehsud, a top militant leader on the unstable Afghan border, threatened this month to meet Bhutto’s return to Pakistan with suicide attacks, according to local media reports. An associate of Mehsud, however, denied Taliban involvement.

Bhutto said her guards prevented more carnage.

“They stood their ground, and they stood all around the truck, and they refused to let the suicide bomber — the second suicide bomber — get near the truck,” she said.

Bhutto blamed militants for the attack, which drew international condemnation.

“We believe democracy alone can save Pakistan from disintegration and a militant takeover,” she told a news conference. “We are prepared to risk our lives and we are prepared to risk our liberty, but we are not prepared to surrender our great nation to the militants.”

Bhutto’s procession crept toward the center of Karachi for 10 hours with supporters thronging her armored truck when a small explosion erupted near the front of the vehicle. That was quickly followed by a larger blast, destroying two police vans escorting the procession. Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao said the vehicles on the left side of Bhutto’s truck suffered the brunt of the blast, one of the deadliest in Pakistan’s history.

Bhutto did not blame the government, but said it was suspicious that streetlights failed after sunset Thursday when her convoy was inching its way through the streets of Karachi. She said attempts to reach the national security adviser to have the lights restored were unsuccessful — phone lines were also apparently down.

“I’m not accusing the government but certain individuals who abuse their positions and powers,” she said. “We were scanning the crowd with the floodlights, but it was difficult to scan the crowds because there was so much darkness.”

The top security official in the province where the attack took place suggested that Bhutto’s camp had not seriously considered the need for security for her return after eight years in exile.

“They got carried away by political exigencies instead of taking our concern seriously,” said the official, Ghulam Muhammad Mohtarem.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which drew international condemnation.

Manzur Mughal, the Karachi police officer in charge of the investigation, said detectives had established that a young man who threw a grenade blew himself up 22 seconds later next to the truck.

The attacker’s head was found nearby and taken to a forensic lab to try to identify him, Mughal told The Associated Press…

It’s odd that Ms. Bhutto would blame militants. Because yesterday all of the expert pundits in our watchdog media were busily blaming Mr. Musharraf and Pakistan’s ISI security branch.

Of course even Ms Bhutto can’t resist getting in some digs.

Bhutto did not blame the government, but said it was suspicious that streetlights failed after sunset

Welcome back to the Middle East.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, October 19th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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