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Prosecutor in Benazir Bhutto case slain in Pakistan

May 03, 2013|By Alex Rodriguez
  • Pakistani police examine the bullet-riddled car of government prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar after an attack by gunmen in Islamabad.
Pakistani police examine the bullet-riddled car of government prosecutor… (Aamir Qureshi / AFP/Getty…)

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Police in Islamabad were looking for suspects and a motive in the shooting death Friday of a lead prosecutor in the investigation into the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto -- a case that also involves allegations against onetime military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

Chaudhry Zulfikar headed up the investigation into the December 2007 slaying of Bhutto, an assassination Musharraf blamed on the Pakistani Taliban. Musharraf, who returned to Pakistan in late March after four years of self-imposed exile, is under house arrest in Islamabad and faces several criminal charges, including failing to provide enough security to Bhutto while he was in power.

Zulfikar also was involved in the investigation of Pakistanis tied to the 2008 attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people, a terror strike that India and the U.S. blamed on the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. Seven men face trial in Pakistan on charges of involvement in the Mumbai attacks, but the case has proceeded slowly and has yet to be adjudicated.

Police say they have no suspects in Zulfikar’s death and do not know whether it was linked to either the Bhutto investigation or the Mumbai attacks case.

Zulfikar had just left his home in his white Toyota Corolla and was on his way to court in Islamabad when gunmen in a taxi pulled up, got out of their vehicle and opened fire, said Islamabad police officer Sartaj Khan. Zulfikar, who was driving, was shot 13 times and died before reaching the hospital, officials said. His bodyguard, who was in the front seat, was shot once but survived the attack.

The ambush occurred shortly after 7 a.m. in front of a Pakistani post office building. After the attack, Zulfikar’s car continued down the street about 100 yards before it veered onto the sidewalk and killed a female pedestrian, officials said.

The car’s interior was covered in blood and broken glass. Bullet holes pockmarked the windshield, left side and back of the car.

Wazir Muhammad, who runs a small grocery stall near the site of the attack, said he heard a volley of shots ring out, and then the sound of Zulfikar’s car speeding past his stall. “I came out and saw the woman on the ground,” Muhammad said. “The bodyguard came out and asked for help, and we pulled Zulfikar’s body from the car. He was covered in blood.”

It is not yet clear whether the slaying has any connection with Musharraf’s return to Pakistan. He came back hoping to engineer a political comeback, but Pakistani courts barred him from running in parliamentary elections on May 11. In addition to the Bhutto case, he is also charged with illegally detaining dozens of judges while he was in power, and ordering the killing of a Baloch nationalist leader in 2006.

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