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Benazir Bhutto killed in attack

The Pakistani opposition leader's assassination has thrown the country into turmoil.

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RAWALPINDI, Pakistan — Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was killed Thursday in a suicide attack as she drove away from a campaign rally just minutes after addressing thousands of supporters, aides said.

The death of the charismatic former prime minister threw the campaign for the Jan. 8 election into chaos and created fears of mass protests and an eruption of violence across the volatile south Asian nation.

It left a void at the top of her Pakistan People's Party, the largest political group in the country. It also threw into turmoil U.S. President George W. Bush's plan to bring stability to this key U.S. ally by reconciling her and President Pervez Musharraf.

Shortly after Bhutto's death, Musharraf convened an emergency meeting with his senior staff, where they were expected to discuss whether to postpone the election, an official at the Interior Ministry said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks.

Next to Musharraf, Bhutto, 54, was the best known political figure in the country, serving two terms as prime minister between 1988 and 1996. She was respected in the West for her liberal outlook and determination to combat the spread of Islamic extremism, a theme she returned to often in her campaign speeches.

As news of her death spread, supporters at the hospital in Rawalpindi smashed glass doors and stoned cars. Many chanted slogans against Musharraf, accusing him of complicity in her killing.

Angry supporters also took to the streets in the northwestern city of Peshawar as well other areas, chanting slogans against Musharraf. In Rawalpindi, the site of the attack, Bhutto's supporters burned election posters from the ruling party and attacked police, who fled from the scene.

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