2 more held in Bhutto killing

Video shows suspect near car just before attack, official says

January 21, 2008|By Kaswar Klasra and John M. Glionna | Kaswar Klasra and John M. Glionna,LOS ANGELES TIMES

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Authorities arrested two more alleged militants yesterday in connection with the recent assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

The arrests took place in Pakistan's mountainous North-West Frontier Province, where a teenage suspect and a man identified as his handler were taken into custody two days earlier.

One of those arrested yesterday was identified as Mohammed Akram, from the Mansehra district. Authorities said videotape taken on the day Bhutto was slain showed Akram in front of her vehicle moments before she was killed, said an investigator who asked not to be identified.

However, a spokesman for the Pakistani Interior Ministry denied that any suspects had been taken into custody yesterday.

It was not clear what Akram was doing that caused him to become a suspect. Police did not release any information on the second man arrested yesterday.

The investigator said police had reviewed videos of the event and were looking for anyone who was in front of Bhutto's vehicle before the shots were fired.

On Saturday, police arrested a teen they said told them he would have been the next suicide bomber to target Bhutto had she survived Dec. 27.

The teen, Aitzaz Shah, and another suspect, Sher Zaman, identified as Shah's handler, were transferred to Islamabad yesterday for further interrogation.

Also yesterday, police searched Shah's home in Single Kot village in the Mansehra district, but it was not clear whether they uncovered any additional evidence.

Elsewhere, violence erupted across Pakistan's border with Afghanistan as thousands marked the Ashoura holiday.

In Hangu town, near Peshawar, seven people were wounded when security forces opened fire on a mourners' procession, police said. Authorities said mourners violated a ban on processions in the town.

Also near Peshawar, a deputy director of the Pakistani intelligence bureau, Nisar Ali Khan, was shot to death by masked militants.

In Islamabad, Scotland Yard investigators investigating the Bhutto assassination left for Britain yesterday.

An official for the British High Commission in Pakistan said the team left temporarily for an analysis of evidence collected.

Kaswar Klasra and John M. Glionna write for the Los Angeles Times.

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