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Pakistan's Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto Assassinated

By VOA News

Pakistan's former prime minister and opposition leader Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated.

Police and aides say a suicide bomber fired gunshots at Ms. Bhutto just moments before blowing himself up, killing at least 15 others.

Ms. Bhutto died shortly after addressing a rally for upcoming elections in a park in Pakistan's army headquarters in Rawalpindi, outside the capital, Islamabad. She was rushed to a local hospital but doctors were unable to save her. She was 54-years-old.

Ms. Bhutto returned to Pakistan in October after eight years in exile. She escaped injury in a double suicide attack during her homecoming procession in Karachi that killed around 140 people.

For months, Ms. Bhutto had been in talks with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for a possible power-sharing deal, strongly favored by the United States. But talks had stalled and Ms. Bhutto was campaigning to run in general elections set for January 8.

Ms. Bhutto also sought to join forces with another former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, whose opposition party is also running in the upcoming elections.

Hours before Ms. Bhutto's death, four people were killed by gunmen who opened fire on supporters of Ms. Sharif during a political rally near Rawalpindi.

Sharif supporters are blaming members of the party that backs President Pervez Musharraf for the violence. Mr. Musharraf's Pakistan Muslim League-Q party has denied those accusations.

Sharif is banned from seeking a seat himself due to past criminal convictions.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

... Payvand News - 12/27/07 ... --

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