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Page last updated at 03:57 GMT, Friday, 11 July 2008 04:57 UK

UN agrees to Bhutto investigation

Benazir Bhutto
Ms Bhutto was assassinated last December at an election rally

Pakistan and the United Nations have agreed in principle to set up a UN panel to investigate the killing of Pakistani ex-PM Benazir Bhutto.

Pakistan's foreign minister said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had agreed to his government's request for such an investigation.

A UN statement said a broad understanding had been reached, but further consultation would be required.

Ms Bhutto was killed in a suicide attack on a rally last December.

Five people have been arrested in connection with the killing, but no-one has been convicted.

After meeting Mr Ban on Thursday, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters: "The objectives are for the commission to identify the culprits, perpetrators, organisers and financiers of the assassination."

He added that Mr Ban had asked for further consultation with Pakistan and UN officials but that a "broad understanding" had been reached on the nature of the commission, its funding, access to information and ways to safeguard its impartiality and independence.

"In principle we have decided to move on, but the modalities have to be discussed," Mr Qureshi said.

'Lax security'

Ms Bhutto's killing triggered deadly riots across the country.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf blamed an al-Qaeda-linked militant for the attack and refused to seek a UN probe.

He invited police from London's Scotland Yard to assist in the inquiry into her death.

In their report the British detectives said they believed she died due to a severe head injury sustained as a consequence of a bomb blast.

The Pakistani investigation into her death concluded that a lone attacker fired shots at Ms Bhutto before detonating explosives, but said that bullets were not the cause of death.

Ms Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) rejected both these versions, claiming adequate security had not been provided for Ms Bhutto, and called for a wider inquiry by the UN to establish the identity and motives of the assassins.

A PPP-led coalition defeated Mr Musharraf's allies in general elections in February.

Ms Bhutto, twice prime minister of Pakistan, lived in self-imposed exile after Mr Musharraf assumed power in 1999.

In October 2007 she returned to Pakistan to campaign for the PPP in parliamentary and provincial elections - the first to be held since President Musharraf resigned as head of the army and became a civilian leader

Shortly after her return, she survived bomb attacks on her convoy in Karachi that killed more than 100 people.

But Ms Bhutto continued to campaign for the restoration of democracy and was assassinated on 27 December at a PPP rally in Rawalpindi.

She was standing upright in her armoured vehicle, with her head exposed above the open roof escape hatch, waving to the crowd when an attacker opened fire.

Seconds later, a bomb was set off at the scene which left some 20 other people dead.




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