Britain’s Channel 4 News has acquired video footage of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination that appears to establish that Ms. Bhutto was shot before the suicide bomber exploded his device. You can see the footage in Channel 4’s report below. The gunman and the bomber are both visible; they approach Bhutto’s vehicle while she is standing up, waving to the crowd from the sun roof of her vehicle. The gunman fires three shots. It appears that you can see at least one bullet strike Bhutto. She disappears through the sun roof and, immediately after, the bomb explodes:
The video, along with other physical evidence, seems to disprove the Pakistani government’s theory that the force of the bomb’s explosion caused Bhutto to strike her head against a lever on the sun roof, fracturing her skull. This is fueling charges of a “cover-up” by Musharraf’s government. But a cover-up of what? Channel 4 says that the regime may be trying to downplay the extent of the security lapse that led to the killing, but it’s hard to see how this makes any sense. The gunman and the bomber approached to within a few feet of Bhutto’s car; the security lapse is no greater whether the gunman’s bullets hit or missed their target.
Nevertheless, the apparent conflict between the government’s account and the video and other evidence will no doubt fuel claims of a conspiracy. Benazir Bhutto appears to be destined to go down in Pakistani history as a combination of Princess Diana and John Kennedy.
UPDATE: A number of readers argue that the video proves Bhutto was NOT shot. Dan Aronstein writes:
You are wrong to jump on the “Bhutto was shot” bandwagon.
The video actually proves she wasn’t shot.
Everyone describes her as being shot, but there’s no blood, and rather than slumping down she is actually ducking back into the vehicle. Watch Bhutto VOLUNTARILY move her right arm up & back FIRST – as if cogently trying to duck back into the vehicle. This is not what a person shot on the head and neck does.
When I first saw the video, it seemed clear that Bhutto was back inside the vehicle when the bomb went off. I’ve now watched it several more times in slow motion, and I still think that’s right, although there is perhaps some ambiguity, and the camera moves away just before the bomb goes off. So the video might not rule out the theory that the concussion of the bomb caused her to hit her head on a lever.
As I’ve said before, I don’t think it makes any difference whether she was shot, hit by shrapnel, struck her head due to the blast, or some combination of all three. The killers succeeded in their mission, regardless. As I understand it, those who were in the car with Bhutto say that she was shot, and I believe that was the first report that came out of the hospital as well. This is not, obviously, a question on which there should have been any uncertainty. It is unfortunate that the multiplicity of stories that have come from various sources, combined with what I still think is an unlikely official account, have needlessly created controversy and suspicion.
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