ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – A top Pakistani police official accused an Al Qaeda linked militant Sunday of orchestrating the deadly attack on former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, saying police had "solid evidence" of his role in the killing.
U.S. and Pakistani officials had indicated they suspect Baitullah Mehsud of masterminding Bhutto's death on Dec. 27 in a gun and suicide bomb attack after an election rally in Rawalpindi.
The head of the team investigating the killing said evidence pointed to Mehsud.
"We have arrested five people in connection with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, and they have told us that Baitullah Mehsud had approved the plan to kill her," Chaudhry Abdul Majeed told reporters.
Majeed identified Bhutto's attacker as Saeed alias Bilal, saying he had met with Mehsud weeks before the attack on Bhutto, according to a detainee who had traveled to troubled South Waziristan.
He said they had a "solid evidence" to back up their claim.
Majeed also said two other men Qari Ismail and Nasrullah — who had links with Bhutto's killer — had died in a shootout in another tribal area of Pakistan in January. He said the pair were killed when they opened fire during a security check in a tribal area of northwestern Pakistan.
Among the five suspects captured by authorities in connection with Bhutto's killing since then are an Islamic militant Husnain Gul who allegedly facilitated Bhutto's attacker because he wanted to avenge the death of a friend in a military attack on a mosque last year.
Gul and his cousin, identified only as Rafaqat, were arrested recently.
Other suspects include a 15-year-old boy Aitezaz Shah and two others, Sher Zaman and Abdul Rasheed, who supplied arms to Bilal or had links with him.
Majeed said they were still looking for another man, Ikramullah, who had been assigned to attack Bhutto if she escaped the first blast.