Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto had returned to Pakistan two months ago in order to stand in the elections on 8 January. At a rally in Rawalpindi yesterday (27 December), an attacker is said to have shot her first, and then blown himself up, killing at least 20 others.
The Associated Press quoted Serdar Kamar Hayyat, a leading figure in Bhutto's party as saying that a young, slim man first jumped onto the back of Bhutto's campaign bus, then shot and got away.
Not the first attack
When Bhutto returned to Pakistan in October, an attack on her convoy had killed 130 people.
Earlier yesterday, there was an attack on a rally by another opposition leader, former prime minister Nawas Sharif, who had also returned from exile. Four people died.
According to the Guardian website, Sharif went to the hospital where Bhutto's body was being held and said: "Benazir Bhutto was also my sister, and I will be with you to take the revenge for her death," he said later. "Don't feel alone. I am with you. We will take the revenge on the rulers."
Bhutto's husband and her three children flew in from Dubai yesterday, and she is likely to be buried today.
Who was Benazir Bhutto?
Benazir Bhutto, aged 54 at her assasination yesterday, was the first female prime minister of Pakistan when she was elected in 1988.
Born in Karachi in 1953, she was the daughter of Zülfikar Ali Bhutto, himself a former President and Prime Minister of Pakistan, who was executed in 1979, following allegations that he had authorised the murder of a political opponent.
Bhutto continued the party her father founded, the centre-left Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and became Prime Minister twice, in 1988 and in 1993. Both times, she was removed from office under allegations of corruption. The criticism against Bhutto came largely from the Punjabi elites and powerful landlord families who opposed Bhutto as she pushed Pakistan into nationalist reform, opposing feudals, whom she blamed for the destabilization of Pakistan.
In 1999, Bhutto was forced to leave Pakistan again, when Pervez Musharraf led a military coup. She moved to Dubai.
In 2002, Musharraf changed the constitution so as to make it impossible for Prime Ministers to serve more than two terms, a change that was seen as targeting Bhutto and Sharif.
However, in 2007, she was able to return to Pakistan. Musharraf wanted her to wait until a supreme court decreed an amnesty. However, Bhutto arrived in Pakistan on 18 October 2007, after eight years in exile. The same day, an attack on her convoy killed 130 people.
In 1987, Benazir Bhutto married Asif Ali Zardari, who owned cement factories and who was also widely implicated in the corruption accusations. They had three children. (TK/AG)