BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Sunday, 30 December 2007, 07:57 GMT
Bhutto death: Witness accounts
John Moore's pictures of Bhutto death


There is still some confusion about the exact cause of Benazir Bhutto's death, as she left a campaign rally in Rawalpindi on Thursday.

Vivid eyewitness accounts refer to a gunman firing shots, and then apparently blowing himself up. Others say there were two attackers. And while the government says she was killed as her head was slammed against her vehicle, her associates said she died from gunshot wounds.

One of the most direct reports has come from Getty picture agency photographer John Moore, who had been covering the rally all day.

As he was preparing to leave, he told the London newspaper The Guardian, he was "shocked" to notice that Ms Bhutto was standing out of her car's sunroof waving to supporters as her vehicle slowly pushed its way through the crowds.

He continued: "As this happened, I was aware of Bhutto ducking back into the car and heard at least two gunshots. I picked up my camera unaware of exactly what was happening.

"As I did so a bomb detonated next to the car about 30ft (10m) from where I was in the crowd.

"I kept the motordrive running as I was pushed back in the crowd, getting pictures of the blast as it went off and crowd members reeling from it.

"The volume of people stopped me getting any closer."

Many of the pictures he took have since appeared in newspapers, television and news websites around the world - including this one.

'Kalashnikov'

A BBC correspondent at the rally, Shahzad Malik, said: "I heard a blast. I rushed across to where so many people were lying injured and dead."

Speaking from his hospital bed, an unnamed eyewitness gave this account: "Madame Benazir came outside the gate [after the rally]. After that there was commotion, there were shots and there was an explosion and then it was chaos."

The bomber caused carnage (Warning: Graphic content!)

Another eyewitness - also unnamed - was even closer: "We were standing right in front of her. In that instant a young man, fair, about 20 to 21 years of age, he fired a Kalashnikov aiming at BB [Bhutto].

"He was standing beside me, moved a little back, so I thrust my hand out at him and just then there was a blast.

Asked if it was the suicide bomber himself that he'd seen, he replied: "I can't really say. Was it him or someone else, I can't say."

A member of Ms Bhutto's PPP party, Mohammad Zaman, told the BBC: "The meeting went perfectly well. She delivered her speech, she came down the stage and got on the land-cruiser.

"She started coming out, we heard three [shots] fired, and after that the bomb blast went [off].

"And when I came down the road I saw there was loads and loads of injured. And I really thought that her vehicle was safe and left the place safely. I was hoping she would be okay."

In fact, she had been fatally injured.

PPP supporters have been accusing President Musharraf's government of failing to protect Ms Bhutto.

But this has been vehemently denied by the acting Interior Minister, retired General Hamid Narwaz Khan.

'Dedicated security'

He told the BBC the government had had reports of threats to her life, and had passed them on.

In the heat of the moment I think she got up just to wave at her supporters, and that is the time and the chance which the suicide bomber got to hit her
Hamid Narwaz Khan
acting Interior Minister

He continued: "She was protected, and we had provided a dedicated officer... to take care of her security.

"Her rallies were also secured.

"This rally in Liaqat Bagh ... the venue was totally secured through screen doors and a bullet-proof rostrum. All other security arrangements had been made with a very large deployment of police.

"She came out after the rally and sat in her vehicle and the movement started.

"Even at that time there were about 20 police escorting her, and the security officer assigned to her was travelling with her in the same vehicle."

The minister went on to describe how the road was blocked by a group of her supporters, and Ms Bhutto stood up through the open sunroof of her car to greet them.

"That was the time she was hit by the suicide bomber," he said.

"This was the best we could do," he added. "There were four other people travelling with her in the same vehicle... if she had stayed down she would be safe, as all four of them are absolutely scratch-free.

"But in the heat of the moment I think she got up just to wave at her supporters, and that is the time and the chance which the suicide bomber got to hit her."

Interior ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema presented a video showing Ms Bhutto in the final moments before the attack. It showed her waving from the sun roof of her vehicle.

Brig Cheema said she ducked back inside after the shots rang out, but that the shock waves from the bomb slammed her head into a lever on the sun roof, and that this was the fatal wound.

This did not convince some of her aides at the scene, who said she died from two bullet wounds. Meanwhile, a surgeon who treated her believed she had died from the impact of shrapnel to her head.

THE ASSASSINATION OF BENAZIR BHUTTO
Map
1. Benazir Bhutto had addressed a rally of thousands of supporters in Rawalpindi's Liaqat Bagh Park
2. As her convoy was leaving the park via the rear gate onto Murree road, a gunman fired at her. Aides said she was hit in the neck and chest
3. An explosion then tore through the crowd, killing at least 16 people
4. Ms Bhutto was taken to Rawalpindi General Hospital, but was pronounced dead at 1816 local time.



RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific