Benazir Bhutto Assasinated

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While Bhutto appeared to have died from bullet wounds, it was not immediately clear if she was shot or if her wounds were caused by bomb shrapnel.

[International]


Pakistan's former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated Thursday outside a large gathering of her supporters where a suicide bomber also killed at least 14, doctors and a spokesman for her party said.


While Bhutto appeared to have died from bullet wounds, it was not immediately clear if she was shot or if her wounds were caused by bomb shrapnel.

President Pervez Musharraf held an emergency meeting in the hours after the death, according to state media.

Mahmud Ali Durrani, Pakistan ambassador to the United States, said Musharraf will be "announcing something" soon, likely to include a declaration of national mourning for Bhutto. He said that when he briefly spoke with Musharraf, the president "condemned these attacks."

Police warned citizens to stay home as they expected rioting to break out in city streets in reaction to the death.

Rioters burned tires and blocked roads in Karachi and other cities, police sources said. Police fired on an angry mob, killing two people, in the city of Khairpur in the Sindh province, Geo TV reported.

Police sources told CNN the bomber, who was riding a motorcycle, blew himself up near Bhutto's vehicle.

Bhutto was rushed to Rawalpindi General Hospital--less than two miles from the bombing scene--where doctors pronounced her dead.

Chaos erupted at the Rawalpindi hospital when former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arrived there to pay his respects to Bhutto less than three hours after her death.

Hundreds of Bhutto supporters crammed into the entrance shouted and cried, some clutching their heads in pain and shock. Sharif called it "the saddest day" in Pakistan's history. "Something unthinkable has happened," he said.

Former Pakistan government spokesman Tariq Azim Khan said while it appeared Bhutto was shot, it was unclear if the bullet wounds to her head and neck were caused by a shooting or if it was shrapnel from the bomb.

Bhutto's husband issued a statement from his home in Dubai saying, "All I can say is we're devastated, it's a total shock."

President Bush, vacationing at his Texas ranch, has been "informed about the situation in Pakistan," said the White House. "We condemn the acts of violence which took place today in Pakistan," said a spokesman.

The number of wounded was not immediately known. However, video of the scene showed ambulances lined up to take many to hospitals.

The attack came just hours after four supporters of former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif died when members of another political party opened fire on them at a rally near the Islamabad airport Thursday, Pakistan police said.

Several other members of Sharif's party were wounded, police said.

Bhutto, who led Paksitan from 1988 to 1990 and was the first female prime minister of any Islamic nation, was participating in the parliamentary election set for January 8, hoping for a third term.


A terror attack targeting her motorcade in Karachi killed 136 people on the day she returned to Pakistan after eight years of self-imposed exile.

CNN's Mohsin Naqvi, who was at the scene of both bombings, said Thursday's blast was not as powerful as that October attack.

Thursday's attacks come less than two weeks after Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf lifted an emergency declaration he said was necessary to secure his country from terrorists.

Bhutto had been critical of what she believed was a lack of effort by Musharraf's government to protect her.

Two weeks after the October assassination attempt, she wrote a commentary for CNN.com in which she questioned why Pakistan investigators refused international offers of help in finding the attackers.

"The sham investigation of the October 19 massacre and the attempt by the ruling party to politically capitalize on this catastrophe are discomforting, but do not suggest any direct involvement by General Pervez Musharraf," Bhutto wrote.


 
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