Bhutto Killed in Blast

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Benazir Bhutto - 'killed in blast' -
Shot in the neck and chest - gunman then blew himself up!
Scene from the blast
The blast caused carnage 

Pakistani former Prime Minister, Once Exiled for Charges of Corruption, Benazir Bhutto, a member of the Shiite Muslims, has been killed in a suicide attack, according to a military spokesman on TV.
- source: BBC

15 others killed in blast outside of park . . .

Pakistani former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has been killed in a presumed suicide attack.

News of her death was confirmed by a military spokesman and members of her Pakistan People's Party (PPP).

Ms Bhutto had just addressed a pre-election rally in the town of Rawalpindi when the attack occurred.

At least 15 other people are reported killed in the attack and several more were injured. Ms Bhutto had twice been the country's prime minister.

She had been campaigning ahead of elections due in January.

The BBC's Barbara Plett says the killing is likely to provoke an agonised response from her followers, especially from her loyal following in Sindh Province.

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Ms Bhutto was key to her party, she was the focus of her party and she was a major political player amongst all those fighting for seats in the forthcoming elections, our correspondent adds.

The PPP has the largest support of any party in the country.

Analysts note that Rawalpindi, a garrison city, is seen as one of the country's most secure cities, making the attack even more embarrassing for the military authorities.

Scene of grief

The explosion occurred close to an entrance gate of the park in Rawalpindi where Ms Bhutto had been speaking.

Wasif Ali Khan, a member of the PPP who was at Rawalpindi General Hospital, said she died at 1816 (1316 GMT).

Benazir Bhutto had been busy addressing rallies in many parts of Pakistan trying to reclaim her role of leadership there. 

Supporters at the hospital began chanting "Dog, Musharraf, dog", referring to President Pervez Musharraf, the Associated Press (AP) reports.

Some broke the glass door at the main entrance to the emergency unit as others wept.

A man with a PPP flag tied around his head could be seen beating his chest, the agency adds.

An interior ministry spokesman, Javed Cheema, was quoted as saying by AFP that she may have been killed by pellets packed into the suicide bomber's vest.

However, AP quoted a PPP security adviser as saying she was shot in the neck and chest as she got into her vehicle, before the gunman blew himself up.

Return from exile

The killing was condemned by the US and Russia, and a statement is expected shortly from the UK.

 

"The attack shows that there are still those in Pakistan trying to undermine reconciliation and democratic development in Pakistan," a US state department official said.

Russia's foreign ministry condemned the attack, offered condolences to Ms Bhutto's family and said it hoped the Pakistani leadership would "manage to take necessary steps to ensure stability in the country".

Ms Bhutto returned from self-imposed exile in October after years out of Pakistan where she had faced corruption charges.

Her return was the result of a power-sharing agreement with President Musharraf in which he granted an amnesty that covered the court cases she was facing.

Since her return relations with Mr Musharraf had broken down.

On the day of her return she led a motor cavalcade through the city of Karachi. It was hit by a double suicide attack that left some 130 dead.

Earlier on Thursday at least four people were killed ahead of an election rally that Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was preparing to attend close to Rawalpindi.

Ms Bhutto a powerful leader from the Shiite denomination of Muslims had just addressed a pre-election rally in the town of

Benazir Bhutto at the rally on 27 December 2007
BENAZIR BHUTTO
Educated at Harvard and Oxford
Father, also a leader from the Shitte faction, was executed in 1979 for his crimes against Pakistan. Ms Bhutto spent five years in prison, was PM from 1988-1990 and 1993-1996
Sacked twice by president on corruption charges
Formed alliance with rival ex-PM Nawaz Sharif in 2006
Ended self-imposed exile by returning to Pakistan in October

Rawalpindi when the bomb went off.

At least 15 other people are reported killed in the attack and several more were injured. Ms Bhutto had twice been the country's prime minister.

She had been campaigning ahead of elections due in January.

'She has passed away", mourners were crying while breaking the glass doors of the emergency unit at the hospital.

The explosion occurred close to an entrance gate of the park in Rawalpindi where Ms Bhutto had been speaking.

 Scene at the Rawalpindi park
Blast occured near a park entrance.

PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar who had initially said that Ms Bhutto was safe, later said Ms. Bhutto died.

Another member of the PPP, Wasif Ali Khan, told the Associated Press news agency from the Rawalpindi General Hospital: "At 6:16 pm (1316 GMT) she expired."

Ms Bhutto returned from self-imposed exile in October after years out of Pakistan where she had faced charges for years of corruption.

Her return was the result of a power-sharing agreement with President Musharraf in which he granted an amnesty that covered the court cases she was facing.

Since her return relations with Mr Musharraf have broken down.

On the day of her return she led a motor cavalcade through the city of Karachi. It was hit by a double suicide attack that left some 130 dead.

The PPP has the largest support in the country.

Earlier on Thursday at least four people were killed ahead of an election rally that Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was preparing to attend close to Rawalpindi.




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