Court orders arrest of pro-Taliban commander in Bhutto’s killing

March 10th, 2008 - 9:23 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Benazir Bhutto
Islamabad, May 10 (DPA) A Pakistani anti-terrorism court issued an arrest warrant Monday for a pro-Taliban commander operating in the country’s restive tribal areas, accusing him of masterminding the murder of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, officials said. Authorities pin-pointed Baitullah Mehsud, leader of a Pakistani Taliban umbrella organization in South Waziristan, as the main suspect hours after Bhutto was assassinated Dec 27 at an election rally in Rawalpindi.

The commander, who has links with Al Qaeda and leads a 5,000-strong militia, has denied the allegation.

But in late January authorities arrested a would-be teenage bomber, Aitzaz Shah, along with his handler Sher Zaman in Dera Ismail Khan, a town in the North-West Frontier Province.

Aitzaz confessed to being next in line to attack Bhutto had she survived the Rawalpindi attack, authorities said. Both he and Zaman were linked to Mehsud’s group.

Both suspects were presented in Rawalpindi’s anti-terrorism court Monday with three other accused - Hasnain Gul, Abdul Rashid and Rafaqat Hussain - who were arrested in Rawalpindi in February for their alleged roles in planning Bhutto’s assassination.

The anti-terrorism judge issued the arrest warrant for Mehsud and four other people while ordering the five suspects already in custody held until their trial scheduled for March 18, a court official told DPA.

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