RAWALPINDI, , Dec. 27 -- Former Pakistani prime minister was assassinated Thursday at a campaign rally, two months after returning from exile to attempt a political comeback.
Bhutto, 54, was leaving the rally in her bulletproof vehicle when she asked that the rooftop hatch be opened so she could bid supporters farewell, aides who were with her said. She leaned her head through the hatch, and several gunshots rang out, an aide seated next to her said. Just as Bhutto sank into her seat, a large bomb detonated outside the vehicle. The left side of Bhutto's face was badly bloodied, aides said, but it was not clear whether she'd been hit by bullets or shrapnel from the bombing. She lost consciousness, and never regained it.
"Today there is no more
The explosion, apparently by a suicide bomber, killed at least 20 people outside the car and injured many others. Police were investigating whether the bomber was also the gunman. One possibility was that the assailant fired the shots and then, after being tackled by security officials, detonated the bomb.
Although no group has claimed responsibility for Bhutto's killing, Western leaders immediately pointed to the Islamic extremist groups operating with increasing intensity in
Bhutto had accused rogue government officials of conspiring with Islamic extremists to assassinate her-- an accusation the government sharply denied. Her relationship with Musharraf, was a complicated and constantly shifting game that included both public hostility and private negotiation. During the state of emergency, Bhutto was placed under house arrest on two occasions, but was allowed to make public appearances, attend receptions and receive high-level visitors in between.
Thursday's afternoon rally took place in a public park in the center of the city. Bhutto's three-vehicle caravan was leaving the park when the attack occurred. She was rushed to
Thousands had gathered at the hospital by the time an official emerged to say Bhutto had died at 6:16 p.m. local time (8:16 a.m. in
Yelling "Musharraf is a dog," they blamed him for Bhutto's death.
As night fell, crowds took to the street in
Bhutto was a highly disciplined and wily politician who kept an iron grip on control of her party, even during her long, self-imposed exile. She flirted with military power-sharing deals even as she passionately championed Pakistani democracy.
The eldest child of a wealthy and politically powerful Pakistani family, educated at Harvard and
Her father, former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was hanged in 1979 by
At her Oct. 18 homecoming reception in the port city of
Nine days after returning to
"I have led an unusual life. I have buried a father killed at age 50 and two brothers killed in the prime of their lives," Bhutto wrote in a recent Op-Ed for The Washington Post. "I raised my children as a single mother when my husband was arrested and held for eight years without a conviction -- a hostage to my political career. I made my choice when the mantle of political leadership was thrust upon my shoulders after my father's murder. I did not shrink from responsibility then, and I will not shrink from it now."
Last words from a brave soul……
Excepts reprinted from Washington Post by By Griff Witte, Debbi Wilgoren and Pamela Constable…….