Benazir Bhutto ‘killed in blast’

BBC News
Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pakistani former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has been killed in a presumed suicide attack, a military spokesman has announced on TV.

Earlier reports said Ms Bhutto had only been injured and taken to hospital.

Ms Bhutto had just addressed a pre-election rally in the town of 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.

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.

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

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).

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 killing undermined reconciliation in Pakistan, the US state department said.

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

FULL STORY: CLICK HERE

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