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Bhutto Assassinated

Bomb blast takes the life of Pakistan's former prime minister and at least a dozen others

Benazir Bhutto was killed at a political rally near Islamabad just hours ago. The New York Times reports that following shots from a gunman, a bomb likely triggered by a suicide attacker went off, killing a dozen or more people along with Pakistan's opposition leader. (Other reports say the gunman and the bomber may have been the same person.) Bhutto, 54, was declared dead at 6:16 p.m. at a hospital in Rawalpindi.

Christians in Pakistan were quick to condemn the killing. The president of Pakistan's Christian Congress, Nazir S. Bhatti, called it a "black day" in the country's history. Christians are a distinct minority in Pakistan, and many have placed hopes for greater democratic freedom and participation on Bhutto's shoulders.

Bhutto's death leaves her political party leaderless less than two weeks before scheduled parliamentary elections. While Bhutto supporters have blamed Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, for the attack, an aide to Musharraf blamed Islamic militants.

The New York Times has posted an obituary for Bhutto as well as an op-ed piece she wrote last month denouncing Musharraf's rule. "It is dangerous to stand up to a military dictatorship, but more dangerous not to," reads the last paragraph of her editorial. Bhutto had been critical of the lack of government security provided to her in recent weeks.

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