ormer Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in Rawalpindi on Thursday evening, soon after she addressed a political rally in the city. According to witnesses, she had left Liaquat Bagh, the venue for her rally, when emotional slogans by her supporters led her to make an appearance via the roof of her car.
She was waving to her supporters when a teenager fired three shots at her and then blew himself up. One of the bullets hit Bhutto in the neck. She was rushed to the Rawalpindi General Hospital where she succumbed to her injuries.
An Al Qaeda leader based in Afghanistan claimed responsibility for the assassination. "We terminated the most precious American asset, which vowed to defeat (the) mujahadeen," Al Qaeda commander and spokesman Mustafa Abu Al-Yazid told Italian news agency Adnkronos International in a phone call from an unknown location.
Bhutto had attracted the ire of extremists by declaring that when she comes to power, she will allow the US to carry out operations in Pakistan to arrest Osama bin Laden. She also said that she will hand over nuclear scientist Dr A Q Khan to the International Atomic Energy Agency
However, many of Bhutto's supporters and political observers pointed out that the daring attack could not have been carried out without 'inside support'. They alleged that the powerful Pakistan military was directly or indirectly involved in the assassination.
On Friday evening, Bhutto was laid to rest next to her father Zulfiqar Ai Bhutto's grave in her ancestral village. Bhutto's husband Asif Ali Zardari, son Bilawal and two daughters -- Bhaktawar and Asia -- were present at her burial at the Bhutto family's white-domed mausoleum.
The family has a strange legacy -- Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was hanged; his son Shahnawaz was poisoned and Murtaza was assassinated in a police encounter while his sister Benazir was prime minister.
Image: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto waves to supporters at a campaign rally minutes before she was assassinated in a suicide attack in Rawalpindi on December 27.
Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images
Also See: Complete Coverage: Benazir Bhutto assassinated