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UK investigators to probe Bhutto’s death

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04.JAN.08

Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf has said UK investigators are to assist in the inquiry into the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

In a televised address, he said Prime Minister Gordon Brown had agreed to send a team of detectives from London to help establish what happened.{{more}}

He said “terrorists” were behind the murder, and described Ms Bhutto’s death as a “great tragedy” for the nation.

Elections set for next week in Pakistan have been postponed until 18 February.

Mr Musharraf said too much damage had been done to polling stations and voter papers during the unrest in the wake of Ms Bhutto’s assassination last Thursday.

He said “miscreants and political elements” had taken advantage of the situation – “looting, burning and killing”.

“Election commission offices, their centres, polling stations and their equipment were all damaged and destroyed. Hence the election commission was facing a big difficulty to hold these elections [on 8 January],” he said.

Mr Musharraf said he was setting up a commission to identify who was responsible for the widespread violence, in which at least 47 people have died.

At the same time, the president promised free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections.

He called for reconciliation rather than confrontation in the run-up to the polls, and said troops and paramilitary soldiers would ensure law and order during this time.

The 30-minute speech was Mr Musharraf’s first major public address since Ms Bhutto’s death.

Mr Musharraf referred to “the pain and anger” of Ms Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), especially in her home province of Sindh.

He paid tribute to his political opponent, saying: “I also feel the same sadness and anger – I respect the sentiments of the nation.”

He repeated official allegations that al-Qaeda was behind Ms Bhutto’s killing, and urged the media to “expose” pro-Taleban militant leaders who, he said, were orchestrating suicide attacks in Pakistan. (BBC)

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