ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - PAKISTANI opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was killed by the force of a suicide blast and not by gunfire, according to a report released on Friday by detectives from Britain's Scotland Yard.
The report concluded that a lone attacker fired shots at Bhutto before detonating explosives at a political rally in Rawalpindi on Dec 27 last year, but said that bullets were not the cause of death.
'The blast caused a violent collision between her head and the escape hatch area of the vehicle, causing a severe and fatal head injury,' said the report, signed by Detective Superintendent John MacBrayne.
President Pervez Musharraf asked Britain's Scotland Yard to help in the investigation. A poll conducted by Gallup Pakistan found almost half of all Pakistanis believed government agencies or politicians allied to Musharraf were involved in the assassination.
Investigators shared the findings with Mr Musharraf's government on Thursday, the newspaper said, quoting officials who requested anonymity.
After the assassination, government officials asserted that Ms Bhutto died after striking her head, but many Pakistanis did not accept that explanation.
The New York Times said it was unclear how Scotland Yard reached its conclusions. Ms Bhutto was buried without an autopsy and the crime scene was cleaned immediately after the blast, potentially washing away vital clues.
The report comes less than two weeks before Pakistan's parliamentary elections on Feb 18, which were delayed by Bhutto's slaying.
Two 'very important terrorists' arrested
As thousands gathered to mark the end of a 40-day mourning period for Ms Bhutto, Pakistani authorities announced two 'important arrests' in connection with her assassination.
A senior police officer in Rawalpindi identified the suspects as Hasnain and Rifaqat, but gave no other details.
Both men had 'tentacles from the tribal region and Baitullah Mehsud,' a senior security official said, referring to an Al-Qaeda-linked militant commander based in the restive border zone of South Waziristan.
Mehsud stands accused by both the Pakistani government and the US Central Intelligence Agency of orchestrating the killing of the pro-Western Ms Bhutto. He has denied any involvement.
Two others, including a 15-year-old who admitted being a backup suicide bomber, were arrested last month. -- REUTERS, AFP