Pakistan could become a huge problem in the very near future after this. There's already unrest because of Musharraf's dictatorial regime, which is supported by the Bush Administration, and now that a hugely popular opposition leader has been gunned down, even if Musharraf isn't involved, it's just going to divide the nation even more.
And lest anyone forgets - Pakistan has nukes.
RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (CNN) -- 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.
Police warned citizens to stay home as they expected rioting to break out in city streets in reaction to the death.
Police sources told CNN the bomber, who was riding a motorcycle, blew himself up near Bhutto's vehicle. Watch aftermath of the attack. »
Bhutto was rushed to Rawalpindi General Hospital -- less than two miles from the bombing scene -- where doctors pronounced her dead.
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. Watch Benazir Bhutto obituary. »
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.
That's not good news... I wonder how India will react. They don't exactly like each other, are neighbors, and when your neighbor has nukes and potentially faces destabilization, that's gotta make everyone nervous.
Hopefully cooler heads will prevail and they don't plunge into civil unrest. Given the region of the world, that's probably wishful thinking.
I don't see what Musharraf would have to gain by being behind this. Yes, it eliminates the "face" of the opposition, but it also martyrs her and amplifies the fervor of that opposition exponentially. Now, if you wanted to get rid of Bhutto while at the same time upping the heat on Musharraf...
Officials: Al Qaeda claims responsibility for Bhutto killing
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin Thursday citing an alleged claim of responsibility by al Qaeda for former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's assassination, a DHS official told CNN.
An Italian news agency says al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri began planning Bhutto's killing in October.
But such a claim has not appeared on radical Islamist Web sites that regularly post such messages from al Qaeda and other militant groups.
The source of the claim was apparently Italian news agency, Adnkronos International (AKI), which said that al Qaeda Afghanistan commander and spokesman Mustafa Abu Al-Yazid had telephoned the agency to make the claim.
"We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat [the] mujahadeen," AKI quoted Al-Yazid as saying.
According to AKI, al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri set the wheels in motion for the assassination in October.
One Islamist Web site repeated the claim, but that Web site is not considered a reliable source for Islamist messages by experts in the field.
The DHS official said the claim was "an unconfirmed open source claim of responsibility" and the bulletin was sent out at about 6 p.m. to state and local law enforcement agencies.
The official characterized the bulletin as "information sharing."
Ross Feinstein, spokesman for Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, said the U.S. intelligence community is monitoring the situation and trying to figure out who is responsible for the assassination.
"We are not in a position to confirm who may be responsible," Feinstein said.
Feinstein said that the intelligence community "obviously analyze(s) open source intelligence," but he would not say whether the community believes the claim has any validity.
For now, he said, there is "no conclusion" as to who may be responsible. advertisement
Earlier, DHS spokesman Russ Knocke said Bhutto's assassination had not prompted "any adjustments to our security posture."
"Of course, we continue to closely monitor events as they unfold overseas," he said.
This is gonna get messy(er).
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." -- Voltaire
Pakistan says sunroof, not bomb or bullets, killed Bhutto
by Rana Jawad 1 hour, 23 minutes ago
ISLAMABAD (AFP) - Pakistan's interior ministry said Friday that Benazir Bhutto was killed after smashing her head on her car's sunroof while trying to duck, and that no bullet or shrapnel was found inside her. ADVERTISEMENT
The ministry also said it had intercepted a phone call from a top Al-Qaeda figure congratulating a militant for the attack on her Thursday, and said there was "irrefutable evidence" the group was trying to destabilise the country.
Bhutto's death after a suicide bomber blew himself up at her campaign rally has plunged this nuclear-armed Islamic nation into turmoil, but the ministry said she would have lived if only she had stayed inside her car.
"If she had not come out of the vehicle, she would have been unhurt, as all the other occupants of the vehicle did not receive any injuries," ministry spokesman Brigadier Javed Cheema said.
He said the post-mortem on the populist opposition leader, whose funeral earlier Friday was attended by hundreds of thousands of mourners, found her mortal wound came when she tried to duck after the bomber attacked.
The bomber also apparently fired three times at her but missed, Cheema said.
When she ducked, she hit the lever of the sunroof of the car that was to speed her away from a campaign rally as she was gearing up to contest parliamentary elections set for January 8.
"The lever struck near her right ear and fractured her skull," Cheema said. "There was no bullet or metal shrapnel found in the injury."
Cheema showed a brief video of the moments before the attack and the blast itself but it was unclear.
He said intelligence services had intercepted a call Friday from the man considered to be a top Al-Qaeda figure for Pakistan, Baitullah Mehsud, congratulating a militant after Bhutto's death.
He said there was "irrefutable evidence that Al-Qaeda, its networks and cohorts are trying to destabilise Pakistan".
"We have recorded his conversation in which he is congratulating a militant for the attack," Cheema said, adding that Mehsud was also behind the suicide attack on Bhutto's homecoming rally in October that killed 139 people.
"He is responsible for most of the attacks that have taken place in the country," the spokesman said, calling for national unity "to eliminate the proponents of death and destruction who are trying to destabilise Pakistan."
Pakistani authorities say Mehsud is based in the troubled tribal region of South Waziristan, where troops have been battling Islamist rebels since the fall of the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan in 2001.
Mehsud had until recently been described by officials as the top pro-Taliban militant commander in the region but is increasingly said to have links to bin Laden's Al-Qaeda group.
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