Benazir Bhutto killed in suicide attack
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has been killed in a suicide attack as she was leaving a political rally in the city of Rawalpindi. At least 21 people died in the attack, local reports say. The attack has been condemned internationally. Earlier in October, a suicide bomber in Karachi killed 136 and injured over 450 Benazir Bhutto supporters.
Several reports from witnesses say Bhutto was shot once in the neck and once in the chest before the bomber blew himself up as Bhutto was leaving a rally of her Pakistan People's Party (PPP), for which she was party leader for life, held before elections scheduled for January 8th, after years of military rule.
According to Wasif Ali Khan, a member of Benazir Bhutto's PPP, she died at 18:16 (13:16 UTC), after 35 minutes of attempted resuscitation. The doctors said she had shrapnel injuries.
Her supporters, once informed of the death started chanting, "Dog Musharraf, dog," referring to President Pervez Musharraf. Many blamed Musharraf and the security services for the deaths. In their anger and confusion, PPP supporters destroyed the doors of Rawalpindi General Hospital. Others took to the streets in several cities, including Karachi, where tires were set on fire on the roads, a gas station was burned, and two police officers were wounded by gunmen. In Peshewar, about 100 PPP's supporters blocked the main trunk road, torching billboards and posters of the Musharraf-supporting Pakistan Muslim League-Q, opening fire in the air and screaming. Some buildings, including the main court and banks, were set on fire in Jacobabad as well.
|The man first fired at Bhutto's vehicle. She ducked and then he blew himself up.|
—Mohammad Shahid, Pakistani police officer
Bhutto was born on June 21, 1953 in Karachi, Pakistan. She served two times as Prime Minister of Pakistan. Bhutto had returned to Pakistan from exile to stand in the upcoming elections. In 2007, she was named the second most influential woman in the world in a list at the American Internet portal MSN.
Benazir Bhutto is survived by her husband Asif Ali Zardari and three children: Bilawal, Bakhtawar, and Aseefa.
According to many polls taken before the assassination, Bhutto and her party would have won the January election.
Responses to the assassination
|We are traumatised. People all over are crying. Everyone is saying that this Army has killed Benazir. There is going to be more bloodshed. Will the world now finally wake up?|
—Asma Jehangir, Chairperson, Pak Human Rights Commission
A spokesman for the Interior Ministry of Pakistan said that "Terrorists are trying to derail the election process". He also said he couldn't say "whether Bhutto was the target of this attack or whether the attacker was trying to create chaos and bloodshed."
The minister for Pakistani external affairs said that he was "shocked," and that his "sympathy goes to [Bhutto's] husband and children". He also said "we were looking forward to democracy in Pakistan. The attack shows terror is on the march in Pakistan."
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that "In her death the subcontinent has lost an outstanding leader who worked for democracy and reconciliation in her country." He also said that "the manner of her going is a reminder of the common dangers that our region faces from cowardly acts of terrorism and of the need to eradicate this dangerous threat."
President Musharraf called for citizens of Pakistan to stay calm and said that terrorists can be defeated, providing people do not panic. He also said there was "a serious lapse of security."
In a statement today, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the killing of Bhutto. "I am shocked and outraged by the assassination of Mrs. Benazir Bhutto, the leader of the Pakistan People's Party and former Prime Minister. This represents an assault on stability in Pakistan and its democratic processes," said Ban. "I strongly condemn this heinous crime and call for the perpetrators to be brought to justice as soon as possible."
The Secretary-General also expressed condolences to Bhutto's family and the people of Pakistan. "While strongly urging for calm and restraint to be maintained at this difficult time, I call on all Pakistanis to work together for peace and national unity," said Ban.
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called it "the saddest day" in Pakistan's history. "Something unthinkable has happened," he said. Sharif said his party will boycott Pakistan's January 8 elections in the wake of Bhutto's death.
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- AFP. "Pakistan police tear gas protest" — , December 27, 2007