ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan's Caretaker Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz Khan at a news briefing Monday apologized for comments made by his ministry's spokesman claiming that former prime minister Benazir Bhutto died of a skull fracture after hitting her head against a sunroof hatch during a suicide attack, the Hindustan Times reports.
Khan asked people to "forgive and ignore” the comments that were slammed by her Pakistan People's Party as "lies" and fueled an uproar in Pakistan.
The government's apparent damage control exercise comes after TV channels aired privately shot photos and video footage that show a gunman shooting at Bhutto, The Hindustan Times reports.
Bhutto is seen in the footage falling through the sun-roof before the suicide bomber detonated his explosives.
Since Bhutto's slaying, the government has come under harsh criticism for its security arrangements for her, its claim that an Islamic militant was behind her death and its conclusion that it was the force of the blast and not gunshot wounds that killed her.
Her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, has led calls for an international, independent investigation into the attack.
The government rejected this, but said in a statement that its own investigation would be thorough and transparent and "will not shy away from receiving assistance from outside, if needed."
U.S. officials said the United States had quietly joined calls for international experts to join the probe and expected investigators from Britain's Scotland Yard to play a significant role.
As part of the investigation, the government took out newspaper ads offering a 162,000 reward for information about her killers. The ad shows a fuzzy still frame from a video featuring the presumed shooter and bomber seconds before the attack, and a photograph of the bomber's severed head.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.