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Two admit arming Bhutto suicide bomber

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Interior Ministry says two suspects in Benazir Bhutto assassination confess
  • NEW: Spokesman says they armed suicide bomber, provided safe house
  • Suspects were arrested last week in Rawalpindi where Bhutto was killed
  • Opposition leader Bhutto killed as she left a rally December 27
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Two suspects arrested last week confessed to a Pakistani judge Wednesday that they helped arm the suicide bomber blamed for assassinating Benazir Bhutto, an Interior Ministry spokesman told CNN.

Benazir Bhutto was killed shortly after this photo was taken on December 27.

The two men -- identified as Hasnain Gul and Rafaqat -- were part of a five-man team behind the former prime minister's assassination, including the suicide bomber, a senior police investigator told CNN.

Both were at the Rawalpindi park where Bhutto was assassinated on December 27 as she left a political campaign rally, said investigator Chaudhry Abdul Majeed.

The other two suspects -- one of them named Karamullah -- are still at large, he said.

The two suspects told the judge in Wednesday's court appearance that they provided the suicide bomber with a house, transportation, a pistol, and the suicide jacket he allegedly used in the attack that killed the opposition leader and nearly two dozen others, Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema said.

They identified the bomber by two aliases, Saeed and Bilal, according to Majeed.

He said the two suspects told police they picked up the bomber a day before the attack at a bus depot in Rawalpindi, and the bomber stayed overnight with Rafaqat before they took him to the Rawalpindi park hours before the attack to do reconnaissance. Then they went to Hasnain Gul's house, where the bomber was fitted with the suicide vest.

Cheema said the bomber apparently was unable to get through security to attend Bhutto's rally, so he carried out the attack as she left the Rawalpindi park.

Pakistani authorities have said Bilal fired a gun on Bhutto before detonating his suicide jacket as she left a political rally in Rawalpindi.

Pakistani and British investigators concluded that Bhutto died when the force of the suicide blast caused her to slam her head onto an escape hatch on her SUV.

Bhutto's family has dismissed the government's assertion that she was not shot by an assassin's bullet, but the family has refused to allow an autopsy on the slain opposition leader.

The two suspects were arrested last Thursday in Rawalpindi, the headquarters of Pakistan's military leadership outside Islamabad, where Bhutto was killed, Cheema said.

Police are still holding Aitzaz Shah, 15, and Sher Zaman, who were detained last month in Dera Ismail Khan in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province.

Pakistani officials have been vague on Shah and Zaman's links to Bhutto's killing, and have said they have not been named as official suspects.

Pakistan's government has concluded Bhutto's assassination was orchestrated by Baitullah Mesud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban who has ties to al Qaeda -- a conclusion the CIA supports.

Two recent nationwide polls in Pakistan found a majority of Pakistanis believe President Pervez Musharraf's government had a role in her killing.

At a news conference Tuesday, Cheema pointed out that the government does not deny someone fired a shot toward Bhutto before detonating his explosives, but added that person did not act alone.

"You will get to know there were other people in the area," Cheema said. "It was not just a single person."

He said Pakistani investigators "have made very good progress" in determining who planned the assassination.

"We are going to break the whole chain and we are confident we're going to reach the perpetrators," Cheema said. "We will exactly tell you who are the people behind this unfortunate incident." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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