December 27, 2007

Bhutto Assassinated

Pakistan Bhutto Blast
A supporter of Pakistan former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto mourns deaths of his colleagues after a suicide attack in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2007. Bhutto died Thursday from her injuries sustained in the attack, a party aide said. At least 20 others were killed in the attack.
(AP Photo/B.K.Bangash)

Former Pakistani Prime Minster and Pakistan People's Party leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in Rawalpindi, Pakistan today, following a campaign rally at Liaqat Bagh park preceding elections scheduled for January 8.

Members of Bhutto's political party confirmed that Bhutto died in surgery at Rawalpindi General Hospital at 6:16 PM from gunshot wounds to her chest and neck.

At least five shots were fired at Bhutto as she entered her vehicle, and a gunman equipped with a suicide vest blew himself up 50 yards from her vehicle after the shots were fired.

Early reports indicate that at least 20 supporters and police were killed in the blast.

Bhutto led the opposition against Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

Developing news and blog coverage of the assassination is being updated at Pajamas Media.

Update: Rioting is expected across Pakistan as a result of Bhutto's death.

Bhutto had been the target of previous assassination attempts from Islamic extremists, and it would be reasonable to assume that they were behind today's attack as well. Some have been quick to also point a finger at jihadi-friendly elements of the Pakistani intelligence community, which seems a reasonable assumption, but at this time it is simply too early to know.

What is certain is that Bhutto's death will throw Pakistani into turmoil, and President Pervez Musharraf now faces the greatest crisis of his Presidency. The January 8 elections now seem in doubt, and missteps by Musharraf could plunge the nuclear-armed country into a possible civil war.

If Musharraf is able to keep the situation from deteriorating to that point, and Islamists are found to be responsible for Bhutto's assassination, he may finally be forced to face the Taliban and al Qaeda-aligned militants in the border regions that terrorists have used as a staging area and base camp since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, forces he has largely tried to appease or ignore in the past.

Following Bhutto's assassination, it would not be very surprising to see Musharraf finally authorize U.S. forces to make cross border raids into the tribal areas in a push to wipe out known Taliban and al Qaeda strongholds, though this point, it is far too early to tell how the former general and current President will react.

Update: Via Hot Air, it seems al Qaeda is taking responsibility for the attack. This may be Musharraf's best chance to clean out the Taliban and al Qaeda with the support of the Pakistani people. Let's hope his does his nation a favor and does just that.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at December 27, 2007 09:21 AM

So precisely which Pakistanis do you actually think support Musharraf at this moment? Bhutto's supporters will hold him responsible for this. This wasn't an ordinary suicide bombing; this was a hit. Whether AQ was responsible for the hit, Musharraf's government failed to protect her.

Posted by: bink34 at December 27, 2007 02:47 PM

My take on this is quite simply Musharraf will again have to take up the "General" mantle, declare marshal law, and kill a lot of people.

Otherwise, he's done...and so is Pakistan.

Posted by: Mark at December 27, 2007 05:23 PM

Actually, he and Pakistan may be done whether he declares martial law or not.

Posted by: C-C-G at December 27, 2007 07:43 PM

America obviously planned this to make a quick opening for the neck of jihadi's everywhere. I am sure Mrs. Bhutto will return, satchel of money in hand to declare that she was paid by the FED to stage all this. Untill then she will be really missed, by the modern world. It's getting bad but we can't let up to stop thinking with open green mentality. GLOBAL IMPACT!

Posted by: Chrome at December 27, 2007 11:26 PM