Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto assassinated in Pakistan

Not surprised. An outspoken woman in an Islamic country that spoke out against Islamic fanatism and terrorism? Sad day.

This from New York Daily:

Moments from death, a smiling Benazir Bhutto rose through the sunroof of her bulletproof white SUV to salute her cheering countrymen.
Wearing a traditional white hijab, which partially concealed her purple jacket, she could not have seen the thin young man with a gun and bomb hiding among the sign-toting supporters.
Suddenly there were gunshots and an explosion and Bhutto was mortally wounded in an assassination that ignited raging violence across Pakistan Thursday - triggering gunfire and flames and threatening to derail parliamentary elections set for Jan. 8.

At least 20 people were killed in the explosion that turned a cheering crowd into a panic-stricken, blood-covered mob running hysterically through the streets of Rawalpindi.

Random shoes and shredded clothing were scattered along the street. Some of the dead were covered with the flag of Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party.

Others, their clothing torn and their bodies broken and bloodied, lay exposed in the flames, smoke and chaos that followed.

Sardar Qamar Hayyat, a leader from Bhutto's party, watched helplessly from about 30 feet away as the "thin, young" killer appeared from the crowd following a campaign appearance and pushed toward her car from behind.

Bhutto, 54, was rushed to Rawalpindi General Hospital, where Dr. Abbas Hayat said she underwent emergency surgery as doctors tried feverishly to revive her. Authorities said she died from gunshot wounds to the neck and chest.

"The surgeons confirm that she has been martyred," said Bhutto's lawyer, Babar Awan.

Grief-wracked supporters, screaming for justice, hoisted her wooden casket aloft and carried it from the hospital hours later. They chanted anti-government slogans and smashed the glass door at the main hospital entrance in a display of anger and frustration.

Her body was flown in a C-130 military aircraft and taken to the southern Pakistani province of Sindh early today for burial in her family graveyard alongside her father, party officials said. Her husband and their three children accompanied the body.

The assassination set off rioting in Karachi, a southern port city where Bhutto supporters fired at police, burned a gas station and set cars ablaze. Two police officers were wounded by gunmen. Authorities reported nine deaths in rioting across the country.

The murder of the popular former Pakistani prime minister was yet another stunning political assassination in a country whose history is dotted with them.

Bhutto was the voice for democracy and freedom in Pakistan. A pro-western woman who wanted to see Pakistan united against extremism and work to progress their country in the right direction. Her death is a blow not only to the west but to freedom itself. Al-qaeda is likely to blame, Taliban in the tribal belt, Islamic terror organizations with ties to the ISI and Pakistani military. One can only hope her death will unite the people against those who seek to harm Pakistanis and their country. Time will tell.


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