Bhutto was shot in head, says aide

KARACHI Sun Dec 30, 2007 8:52am IST

A TV frame grab taken on December 29, 2007 shows a still image taken by an amateur photographer of a suspected gunman (in sunglasses) and suspected suicide bomber (in white scarf) near Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto's vehicle (not pictured) in Rawalpindi. REUTERS/Dawn TV via Reuters TV

A TV frame grab taken on December 29, 2007 shows a still image taken by an amateur photographer of a suspected gunman (in sunglasses) and suspected suicide bomber (in white scarf) near Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto's vehicle (not pictured) in Rawalpindi.

Credit: Reuters/Dawn TV via Reuters TV

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KARACHI (Reuters) - Benazir Bhutto was shot in the head, a close aide who prepared her body for burial said on Saturday, dismissing as "ludicrous" a government theory that she died after hitting her head on a sunroof during the suicide attack.

The government stuck to its version, saying Bhutto's party was welcome to exhume her corpse to check.

Sherry Rehman, a spokeswoman for Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party and close aide, was in the car behind her at the end of a political rally when an attacker fired shots at the opposition leader and then blew himself up.

Security officials said after the assassination on Thursday that Bhutto had been shot in the neck and head. But on Friday, the government said she died when the force of the blast smashed her head on a sunroof lever.

"She has a bullet wound at the back of her head on the left side. It came out the other. That was a very large wound, and she bled profusely through that," said Rehman, who suffered a severe whiplash and leg injuries as the blast threw her out of her car.

"She was even bleeding while we were bathing her for the burial," she added. "The government is now trying to say she concussed herself, which is ludicrous. It is really dangerous nonsense."

Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema said the government's version was based on a medical report and other evidence collected from the scene of the attack.

"If there is any doubt, if Sherry Rehman says that she has seen the bullet wounds, if they say that she died of the bullet wounds, we don't mind," Cheema told a news conference.

"If the People's Party's leadership wants, her body can be exhumed and post-mortemed. They are most welcome but we gave you what the facts are."

Doctors did not carry out a post-mortem of Bhutto's body on the instructions of her family, officials say.

Rehman said the government had denied Bhutto the security measures she had been asking for.

"It's sad, but it looks like an attempt at either at a cover up or absolving themselves from responsibility, or both," she said.

Rehman did not see the attacker, and was looking the other way just prior to the attack as she and a colleague suddenly noticed they were surrounded by unfamiliar faces.

"We were seeing people who were unfamiliar suddenly wearing Bhutto badges," she said.

(Additional reporting by Kamran Haider)

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