Pakistan says "revelations" divulged in Bhutto case

A teenager who admitted being a back-up suicide bomber for a team that assassinated Benazir Bhutto has divulged "revelations" concerning the opposition leader's murder, an Interior Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday.

Fifteen-year-old Aitezaz Shah and his militant "handler", were arrested in the northwestern town of Dera Ismail Khan on Thursday and Shah had told interrogators he was next in line to kill former prime minister Bhutto had the other assassins failed. "Shah has made some revelations with regard to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto," Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema told a news conference.

Bhutto was killed in a gun and bomb attack as she left an election rally in the city of Rawalpindi on December 27.

The boy's information had led investigators to the capture of Zaman, and explosives and detonators were found at Sher Zaman's house, Cheema said.

He gave no details of any "revelations", and cautioned that information gathered from the two suspects had to be corroborated.

Detectives from Britain's Scotland Yard, which Pakistan invited to join the investigation into Bhutto's death, will be able to question Shah, and his handler, Sher Zaman, Cheema said.

Pakistan is rife with scepticism over the probe into the killing of an opposition leader who President Pervez Musharraf would have found hard to handle had she won the prime ministership in an election that has been delayed until February 18.

The request for help from Scotland Yard was seen in some quarters as an attempt to counter public cynicism.

The British team has gone home, but is expected to return in a few days and present its final report, Cheema said.

The teenaged Shah told interrogators he was sent from Karachi by a cleric to South Waziristan, a restive tribal region, where he was trained as a suicide bomber by militants loyal to Baitullah Mehsud, a Taleban commander with ties to al Qaeda.

He also repeated the names of men mentioned in a telephone conversation between Mehsud and a confederate, that authorities had eavesdropped and made public to support suspicions that the Taleban commander had ordered the hit.

The United States has also said evidence pointed towards Mehsud.

But doubts remain about whether the arrest of Shah and Zaman represented a breakthrough.

"Certainly, the whole thing seems rather too convenient, in fact tailor made, for the investigators," The News, Pakistan's biggest selling English language daily, said in an editorial on Tuesday.

It went on to say that even if the information were genuine, so few people are willing to believe the authorities that conspiracy theories will linger on.

- REUTERS

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