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Bhutto’s Party demands UN probe into slaying, dismisses Scotland Yard help

Supporters of Benazir Bhutto insisted Thursday that a U.N. probe was the only way to reveal the truth behind her murder, dismissing a government announcement that Scotland Yard antiterror officers would help in the investigation.

Opposition parties also criticized the government’s decision to delay parliamentary elections until Feb. 18 - a six-week delay prompted by the rioting that followed the opposition leader’s death. But they said they still plan to take part in the elections, seen as a key step in bringing democracy to Pakistan after years of military rule.

Bhutto’s slaying in a gun and suicide bomb attack Dec. 27 plunged already volatile Pakistan deeper into crisis and stoked fears of political meltdown as the key U.S. ally struggled to contain an explosion of Islamic militant violence.

The Government of President Pervez Musharraf declared just one day after the attack that an al-Qaida-linked militant orchestrated the killing. But the hasty accusation only served to cast doubt over the government’s account of exactly how she died.

Authorities - which had initially ruled out the need for foreign involvement in the investigation - have also come under sharp criticism for their security arrangements for Bhutto, who had claimed elements in the ruling party were trying to kill her.

“The mist of confusion will be cleared only if the regime accepts the party’s demand for holding a UN inquiry into the assassination as was done in the case of Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri’s murder,” said Farhatullah Babar, a spokesman for Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party.

In a nationally televised address late Wednesday, Musharraf announced that Scotland Yard detectives had been invited to join the probe. He blamed “terrorists” for the death of Bhutto.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the team would leave Britain by the end of the week.

The White House said it supported Scotland Yard’s involvement, adding that a United Nations investigation into Bhutto’s slaying was not necessary now.

“Scotland Yard being in the lead in this investigation is appropriate and necessary and I don’t see - we don’t see a need for an investigation beyond that at this time,” presidential spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

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