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Benazir Bhutto Assassinated in Pakistan

Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated today at a rally held in Rawalpindi, the garrison city near Islamabad that is also home to Pakistani Army headquarters.

Early reports indicate that Bhutto was shot by sniper fire in a coordinated attack that included a suicide bomber, with FOX News reporting that she was hit five times, including in the chest and neck. She survived the initial attack but appears to have died in surgery at a local hospital.

Little news is available yet from Pakistani media sources, but The Times of India reports that about 20 are believed to have been killed by the suicide bomber's blast in addition to the sniper killing of Bhutto. The bomber struck an exit where people were leaving Bhutto's rally.

At the hospital, Bhutto supporters were already reacting against Pervez Musharraf, whose government and military they likely suspect are behind the attack. At the news of Bhutto's death, they chanted "Dog, Musharraf, dog," and broke glass doors at the entry to the hospital.

The greatest strategic fear going forward from this tragedy is a potential rise in civil unrest inside Pakistan with chaos and instability throughout regions of the country, adding to the challenge of a Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance in control of the tribal areas. Chaos among the democratic opposition in cities such as Karachi and Lahore would magnify the crisis already at hand.

More to follow at ThreatsWatch as the situation unfolds and information becomes available.