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Teenager says he was next in line to kill Benazir

Nirupama Subramanian

ISLAMABAD: A teenaged boy arrested last Friday for his suspected involvement in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto told security officials that he was trained as a suicide bomber in South Waziristan and was next in line to kill the former Prime Minister, had the December 27 attack failed.

Dawn reported that Aitiezaz Shah was arrested along with a second suspect in Dera Ismail Khan, a town in the North West Frontier Province.

The second suspect, identified as Sher Zaman, was described by Dawn and other newspapers as Shah’s “handler” and the “real catch.”

Quoting police sources, the newspaper said the two were arrested as they were driving into DI Khan with explosives in the car, and were planning to target a Shia procession during Muharram.

ARY One World television, however, reported that the two suspects told interrogators that their next target was the United States Consulate in Karachi.

There is still no official word of the arrests from the Interior Ministry, though Associated Press reported it had confirmation of the two arrests from Interior Secretary Kamal Shah.

Aitiezaz Shah is reported to have admitted that he was part of a five-member team sent by the South Waziristan warlord, Beithullah Mehsud, to kill Benazir.

But as soon as word of the arrest spread on Saturday, a denial came from the Mehsud camp dissociating itself from the teenager.

Newspapers quoted a representative of Beithullah Mehsud named Maulvi Omar reiterating that Mehsud had nothing to do with the Benazir assassination.

“We have denied our involvement in Benazir’s assassination before and are denying this again. We are not involved in Benazir’s murder,” he said.

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