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Bhutto exhumation OK, Pakistan official says

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Pakistan's Dawn TV airs still photos, purportedly of a suspected gunman
  • Spokesman: Bhutto's body can be exhumed to end controversy over cause of death
  • Government says Bhutto died when head struck sunroof lever
  • Aide says she saw bullet wounds to Bhutto's head, suggests a cover-up
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- The Pakistani government has no problem with officials from Benazir Bhutto's political party exhuming the slain opposition leader's body if they see a need to do so, an Interior Ministry spokesman said Saturday.

Brig. Javed Iqbal Cheema made the remark when asked about comments from a top Bhutto aide who helped bathe Benazir Bhutto's body after her death.

Sherry Rehman, Pakistan Peoples Party information secretary, said it was clear that the former Pakistani prime minister suffered bullet wounds to her head, contrary to a government report that she died because she hit her head on a sunroof lever.

Cheema noted that if Rehman -- as she said -- believes she saw bullet wounds that caused Bhutto's death, "We don't mind if the Peoples Party leadership wants her body to be exhumed and post-mortemed. They are most welcome, but we gave you what the facts are." Video Watch a report about Bhutto's final moments »

Cheema emphasized that the government's conclusion on the cause of death was based on "absolute facts, nothing but the facts."

"It was corroborated by the doctor's report; it was corroborated by the evidence of the footage we showed you."

Rehman -- who had been riding in the car behind Bhutto's when it was attacked -- called the government's conclusion that Bhutto was not shot "the most bizarre, dangerous nonsense." Video Watch Sherry Rehman's interview with CNN »

"It's beginning to look like a cover-up to me," she said in a CNN interview.

Rehman said that Bhutto was hemorrhaging on the way to the hospital and that the two cars used to get her there were blood-soaked.

"There were clear bullet injuries to her head," she said. "When we bathed her, we saw that."

Meanwhile, Pakistan's Dawn TV aired still photographs, purportedly of a suspected gunman in the crowd surrounding Bhutto just before her death.

The man, who is wearing sunglasses in the photographs, is possibly holding a gun.Watch new images of Bhutto gunman Video

CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity of the photos.

On Thursday, hours after Bhutto's death, the Pakistani Interior Ministry said she died from a gunshot wound to the neck, with the gunman firing as Bhutto stood through the open sunroof of her vehicle while leaving a rally in Rawalpindi. The gunman then blew himself up, killing 23 others as well, officials said.

Video of the incident shows a man shooting a handgun three times toward Bhutto's car before the blast. The account was consistent with statements to The Associated Press from doctors who pronounced Bhutto dead at a hospital. Watch three shots and a blast Video

But on Friday, the Interior Ministry said Bhutto was killed by shrapnel from the explosion. Then, hours later, the ministry said she died from a skull fracture suffered when she either fell or ducked into the car as a result of the shots or the explosion and crashed her head into a sunroof latch. Watch the government account of how Bhutto died Video

"The government comes up with the most bizarre, dangerous nonsense, and it indicates that they are abdicating themselves of all responsibility by saying that she may have knocked her head or concussed her head against one of the levers on the sunroof," Rehman said.

Dr. Mussadiq Khan of Rawalpindi General Hospital, who treated Bhutto before she was pronounced dead, said she had a large wound on the side of her head consistent with striking or being struck by "something big, with a lot of speed."

Meanwhile, a Pakistani provincial official said at least 44 people had been killed during unrest in the country's Sindh province since Bhutto was assassinated. Photo See photos of violence in Pakistan »

Akhtar Zaman, provincial interior minister, told CNN on Saturday that four of those killed were police officers. Sindh province is Bhutto's home province and a bastion of support for her Pakistan Peoples Party.

Zaman gave other figures on the violence in the southern Pakistani province. He said 900 vehicles were set ablaze, 672 of those in Karachi. Also set on fire were 37 police stations, 141 banks, and 31 gas stations. He said at least 368 people were arrested.

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At the same time, Pakistan's Interior Ministry spokesman provided figures for the whole country. He said 38 people had died and 53 others were wounded.

He said 174 banks have burned and 26 banks have been destroyed,158 offices have been burned and 23 have been damaged. He said 43 gas stations have been ignited, 370 cars destroyed and 61 cars damaged. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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