News24 (S. Africa) : Bhutto case: Reward offered

Friday, October 26, 2007

Bhutto case: Reward offered

Rana Jawad | October 26, 1007

Islamabad - Pakistani police have released sketches of two men thought to be the suicide bombers who devastated former premier Benazir Bhutto's homecoming parade and killed 139 people, officials said on Friday.

The drawings of the two severed heads found at the blast site were made public as President Pervez Musharraf ruled out enlisting international experts to help with the probe into the October 18 carnage.

Bhutto, who was targeted in the attacks, has repeatedly demanded the government seek expertise from the United States and Britain in tracking down the masterminds, saying she lacked confidence in local investigators.

"Our record in tracing previous suicide attacks is almost 100%," Musharraf was quoted as telling a meeting of pro-government lawmakers in the capital late on Thursday.

"The president said our agencies have better expertise in tracing such attacks than anyone else in the world," deputy information minister Tariq Azeem also told AFP.

Musharraf's comments are his first on the probe and back those of government ministers in recent days as Bhutto, the first female leader of an Islamic nation, steps up pressure for improvements in the investigation.

Bhutto has claimed extremists have infiltrated the government and security forces and could have been involved in the attacks, the worst in the nation's history.

Musharraf, who seized power in a coup in 1999, also defended the chief of the civilian-run Intelligence Bureau amid allegations from Bhutto's party and her husband of his possible involvement in the blasts.

A five-million-rupee reward

"Ijaz Shah is not going anywhere. He will stay in his present position and I have full faith in his abilities," Musharraf told the meeting of lawmakers.

Shah is a close confidant of Musharraf and has headed the intelligence agency since 2004. He has also worked for the powerful military spy agency Inter Services Intelligence.

Bhutto has vowed to stay and campaign in upcoming general elections despite the attacks, which tore through her parade in Karachi just hours after she stepped back onto Pakistani soil for the first time since 1999.

Flanked by heavy and well-armed security, she is expected to visit her ancestral home of Larkana in remote southern Pakistan on Saturday to pay her respects at her family mausoleum.

Police released sketches late on Thursday of the severed heads found at the blast site. One was largely intact but the other was badly damaged, forcing forensic experts to reconstruct it before releasing the drawings.

"We have released sketches of two suspects who could be the suicide bombers," Karachi police chief Azhar Farooqi told AFP on Friday.

A five-million-rupee reward has also been announced for anyone with information leading to the identity of the militant group behind the attacks.

Farooqi said police were investigating several people but declined to reveal any progress in the probe so far.