Source AP ©

Benazir Bhutto martyred and killed by gunman who blew himself up

Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated today in a suicide attack that also killed at least 20 others at a campaign rally, aides said.

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

A party security adviser said Bhutto was shot in neck and chest as she got into her vehicle to leave the rally in Rawalpindi near the capital Islamabad. A gunman then blew himself up, the AP reports.

Benazir Bhutto was a Pakistani politician. Bhutto was the first woman elected to lead a post-colonial Muslim state. She was twice elected Prime Minister of Pakistan. She was sworn in for the first time in 1988 but removed from office 20 months later under orders of then-president Ghulam Ishaq Khan on grounds of alleged corruption. In 1993 Bhutto was re-elected but was again removed in 1996 on similar charges, this time by President Farooq Leghari.

Bhutto went into self-imposed exile in Dubai in 1998, where she remained until she returned to Pakistan on October 18, 2007, after reaching an understanding with General Musharraf by which she was granted amnesty and all corruption charges were withdrawn.

She was the eldest child of former premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a Pakistani of Sindhi extraction, and Begum ("Lady") Nusrat Bhutto, a Pakistani of Iranian-Kurdish extraction. Her paternal grandfather was Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto who came to Larkana Sindh before partition from his native town of Bhatto Kalan which was situated in the Indian state of Haryana.

She was assassinated in a presumed suicide bomb attack during a political rally of the Pakistan Peoples Party in the town of Rawalpindi. Ex-government spokesman Tariq Azim Khan said that, although it appeared that she'd been shot, it was unclear whether her bullet wounds had been caused by a shooting or shrapnel from the bomb.