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Pak denies reports about Bhutto killer being identified
Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad | January 08, 2008 20:24 IST
Pakistan's Interior Ministry on Tuesday denied reports that the gunman involved in former premier Benazir Bhutto's assassination had been identified. The ministry said that no one has been arrested in connection with her killing so far.
Interior ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema rejected reports that a man involved in the attack on Bhutto had been identified. He told a weekly news briefing that no arrests had been made in this regard.
A Pakistani TV channel had reported on Monday night that the gunman had been identified as a resident of Swabi in the North West Frontier Province on the basis of DNA tests. It also claimed that a raid had been conducted on the house of the man, who, it claimed, was killed in the suicide blast.
The same channel had mistakenly reported last week that Bhutto's husband Asif Ali Zardari was being interrogated for her assassination, but it subsequently withdrew the report and apologised to Zardari.
Cheema said Pakistani investigating agencies are currently probing Bhutto's assassination with the assistance of a team from Britain's Scotland Yard.
"We all should await the results of the investigation which the government will share with the people," he said.
The Scotland Yard team is carrying out its probe independently and there are no restrictions on it. "The team is investigating the incident from all aspects and is hopeful of reaching the facts soon. Our own team comprising professionals is also carrying out investigations and working day and night," Cheema said.
Although no time-frame has been set for the Scotland Yard team, the government has requested it to complete its probe as soon as possible, so that the facts can be presented to the people, Cheema said.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan government has declared 35 districts as sensitive and has taken all precautionary measures to maintain law and order in these areas during the upcoming Islamic month of Muharram.
Pakistan has witnessed heightened tensions in the past between its Sunni majority population and the Shia minority during Muharram, which begins on January 10. Cheema said steps have been taken for the safety of religious leaders, Imam bargahs and processions.
All provincial governments and security agencies have been directed to remain on high alert to maintain sectarian harmony and peace during Muharram.
"The government has beefed up the deployment of security personnel in sensitive areas across the country keeping in view the main activities that take place throughout the month," he said.
Peace committees have also been activated in cities and towns.
Cheema said there is a two-fold threat in the NWFP, which is facing sectarian tension and a militant threat and security has been beefed up in that province.
The operations by security forces, against militants in the Swat valley of the NWFP, will continue till the people are able to live in peace and tranquility and conduct their normal activities without fear, he added.