Former Pakistani Prime Minister and opposition leader Benazir Bhutto has been killed by a suicide bomber at the end of an election rally for her party, the Pakistan People’s Party, in the town of Rawalpindi. At least 15 other people have been killed in the attack. Bhutto aspired to lead the new Government of Pakistan, since she was one of the candidates for prime minister in the legislative elections scheduled for January 8. The president, Pervez Musharraf, has condemned the attack, has decreed three days of mourning and has put the armed forces on high alert for the attempts at violence that have occurred after the assassination.
Bhutto, 54, has died in Rawalpindi hospital, where she had been taken from injuries she had sustained. According to her security adviser, Rehman Malik, she was shot in the neck and head as she leaned out of the roof of her vehicle to greet her supporters; As she was shot she collapsed, which was followed by the explosion of the suicide bomber, the same one who had shot her. In addition to Bhutto, at least 15 people have died from the explosion, although some sources put the figure as high as 22.
However, Bhutto’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari, who has announced that he will travel to Pakistan along with other relatives from Dubai to attend the funeral, told a private Pakistani television channel that his wife had been shot in the neck after the explosion and not before.
It was not the first attempt to assassinate Bhutto, who was the prime minister of Pakistan between 1988 and 1990 and between 1993 and 1996, the first woman to become head of government of an Islamic country. On October 18, when she was returning from a several-year exile in England, her welcome caravan passing through Karachi was the target of a suicide attack that claimed the lives of more than 140 people. She on that occasion she came out unharmed.
The UN Security Council has called an emergency meeting to discuss the situation in Pakistan after Bhutto’s death. Meanwhile, Musharraf has put the security forces on high alert to control any altercation. Some near misses have already occurred and the police have had to act in Karachi and Islamabad.