Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto assassinated
Political leaders around the world have been stunned by the assassination of Benazir Bhutto today.The former prime minister, who returned to her native Pakistan to fight elections, was reported to have been shot dead after she left a political rally in the city of Rawalpindi.
Political leaders around the world have been stunned by the assassination of Benazir Bhutto today.
The former prime minister, who returned to her native Pakistan to fight elections, was reported to have been shot dead after she left a political rally in the city of Rawalpindi.
Ms Bhutto was shot in the neck and chest as a suicide bomber then blew himself up today. She was being driven from an open air rally ahead of the forthcoming elections on January 8.
She had already survived an attempt on her life several weeks ago after returning to fight the elections. A suicide bomber killed about 150 supporters in Karachi after an election rally.
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It has been confirmed that Ms Bhutto, who has twice served as prime minister, had died in an explosion thought to have killed an estimated 20 people earlier today.
She was leaving the rally where she had addressed thousands.
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Her death, at the age of 54, has thrown the country's parliamentary election process into potential chaos as angry supporters were chanting that president Musharraf could have done more to prevent such attacks.
Ms Bhutto, who held office as prime minister between 1988 and 1996, was the first woman to hold the top post in a Muslim country.
She had returned to her native Pakistan after eight years in exile in October when an amnesty had been agreed with President Musharraf over alleged corruption charges.
Her death at 6.16pm (13.15GMT) was confirmed by a party member Wasif Ali Khan at Rawalpindi's General Hospital.
It was also reported that Nawaz Sharif, another former premier and opposition leader, had arrived at the hospital.
Foreign secretary David Miliband was deeply shocked and paid tribute to a leader who knew the risk of her returns from exile.
“Benazir Bhutto showed in her words and actions a deep commitment to her country. She knew the risks of her return to campaign but was convinced that her country needed her.
“In targeting Benazir Bhutto extremist groups have in their sights all those committed to democratic processes in Pakistan,” said Mr Miliband.
Television reports showed some angry supporters chanting “Dog, Musharraf, dog,” referring to Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf.
Ms Bhutto when asked if she feared for her life, shortly before returning to Pakistan, said that it was her duty to her country to fight for a fairer government and the end of a military dictatorship.
Her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was executed on April 4, 1979 for the murder of a political opponent, two years after he was ousted as prime minister in a military coup.
The killing was condemned by the US and Russia.
“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".
France spoke of an "odious" act and said it was deeply concerned.
Benazir Bhutto was the last remaining bearer of her late father's political legacy.
Her brother, Murtaza - once expected to play the role of party leader - fled to the then-communist Afghanistan after his father's fall.
He campaigned against Pakistan's military government with a militant group called al-Zulfikar. He won elections from exile in 1993 and became a provincial legislator, returning home soon afterwards. He was shot dead under mysterious circumstances in 1996.
Benazir's other brother, Shahnawaz - also politically active but in less violent ways than Murtaza - was found dead in his French Riviera apartment in 1985.
Born June 21, 1953 in Sindh.
Educated at Harvard and Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.
Father led Pakistan before being executed in 1979
Spent five years in prison
Served as 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