The assassination of Benazir Bhutto occurred on 27 December 2007 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Bhutto, twice Prime Minister of Pakistan (1988–1990; 1993–1996) and then-leader of the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party, had been campaigning ahead of elections scheduled for January 2008. Shots were fired at her after a political rally at Liaquat National Bagh, and a suicide bomb was detonated immediately following the shooting. She was declared dead at 18:16 local time (13:16 UTC), at Rawalpindi General Hospital. Twenty-four other people were killed by the bombing. Bhutto had previously survived a similar attempt on her life that killed at least 139 people, after her return from exile two months earlier.
Though early reports indicated that she had been hit by shrapnel or the gunshots, the Pakistani Interior Ministry initially stated that Bhutto died of a skull fracture sustained when the force of the explosion caused her head to strike the sunroof of the vehicle. Bhutto’s aides rejected this version, and argued instead that she suffered two gunshots before the bomb detonation. The Interior Ministry subsequently backtracked from its previous claim. However, a follow-up investigation by Scotland Yard found that while gunshots were fired, they were not the cause of death, agreeing with the Interior Ministry’s original assessment that the explosion forced her head into the roof of the vehicle.
In May 2007, Bhutto asked for additional protection from foreign contracting agencies Blackwater and the British firm Armour Group. The United Nations’ investigation of the incident revealed that, “Ms. Bhutto’s assassination could have been prevented if adequate security measures had been takenBackground
Bhutto had opted for self-exile while her court cases for corruption remained pending in foreign and Pakistani courts. After eight years in exile in Dubai and London, Bhutto returned to Karachi on 18 October 2007 to prepare for the 2008 national elections, allowed by a possible power-sharing deal with President Pervez Musharraf.
Bhutto survived an assassination attempt in Karachi during this homecoming. En route to a rally in Karachi on 18 October 2007, two explosions occurred shortly after she had landed and left Jinnah International Airport returning from her exile. Bhutto was not injured, but the explosions, later found to be a suicide-bomb attack, killed 139 people and injured at least 450. The dead included at least 50 of the security guards from her Pakistan Peoples Party, who had formed a human chain around her truck to keep potential bombers away, as well as six police officers. A number of senior officials were injured. Bhutto was escorted unharmed from the scene.
After the bombing Bhutto and her husband asked Musharraf for greater security, including tinted windows, jammers for bombs, private guards, and four police vehicles. These calls were echoed by three U.S. Senators who wrote to Musharraf. Bhutto’s supporters and the Pakistani government dispute whether or not she was provided adequate protection. The Israeli newspaper Maariv reported that Bhutto further asked the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Britain’s Scotland Yard, and Israel’s Mossad several weeks before the assassination to help provide for her protection. Israel had not yet decided whether or not to provide aid because it did not want to upset relations with Pakistan and India. Bhutto also tried to obtain private security personnel, approaching both the U.S.-based Blackwater and UK-based ArmorGroup. However, the Pakistani government refused to give visas to the foreign security contractors. Despite this, American diplomats provided Bhutto with confidential U.S. intelligence on threats against her. After the assassination, President Musharraf denied that Bhutto should have received more security, saying that her death was primarily her own fault because she took “unnecessary risks” and should have exited the rally more quickly.
Benazir Bhutto had just addressed a rally of Pakistan Peoples Party supporters in the city of Rawalpindi when the rally was rocked by a blast. Bhutto was leaving the rally when the attack occurred. Initial police reports stated that one or more assassins fired at Bhutto’s bulletproof white Toyota Land Cruiser just as she was about to drive off after the rally. A suicide bomber detonating a bomb next to her vehicle followed. According to Getty Images photographer John Moore, Bhutto was standing through her vehicle’s sunroof to wave at supporters, and fell back inside after two gunshots. The Times of India aired an amateur clip showing the assassin firing three gun shots at Bhutto before the blast.
Following the incident, an unconscious Bhutto was taken to the Rawalpindi General Hospital at 17:35 local time, where doctors led by Rawalpindi Medical College Principal Mohammad Musaddiq Khan tried to resuscitate her, performing a “left anterolateral thoracotomy for open cardiac massage”. Sadiq Khan, Mohammad Khan’s father, had tried to save Liaquat Ali Khan when he was assassinated in the same park and rushed to the same hospital in 1951. Although Pakistan Peoples Party spokesman Farhatullah Babar initially said that Bhutto was safe, she was declared dead at 18:16 local time (13:16 UTC)..”