ALISON STEWART, host:
You are listening to THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News. It is about six minutes to nine, Eastern Standard Time on December 27th. And NPR News is now reporting that Benazir Bhutto is dead. The Pakistani opposition leader was killed today at a rally when a bomb went off.
We have on the line Kamal Siddiqi with the News International.
And, Kamal, can you give us anymore details about the rally, and how many people were injured, and how many blasts there were?
Mr. KAMAL SIDDIQI (Editor, Karachi News International): Well, the details right now are very sketchy, but we are given to understand that 16 people have died as a result of the bomb blast, and that around 80 people are injured, and hospital - the main general hospital is now turning away patients who are coming in and redirecting them to other hospitals because their emergency ward is now full.
STEWART: And, Kamal, from what you've learned and from various reporting, where was Benazir Bhutto when the attack happened?
Mr. SIDDIQI: From what we have been given to understand from the pictures that have come out and were being (unintelligible) that are being seen on television, Benazir Bhutto had completed her rally speech, had gotten into her car and was going towards outside the park, where this rally was held. And it was at the main gate of the park that the bomb blast, took place, but it was also reported there were some firing. And Benazir Bhutto died as a result of some bullets. But we are not very sure whether it was the bullet of the bomb blast that killed her (unintelligible).
JOHN FUGELSANG, host:
Do we know if Ms. Bhutto had any kind of security or protection or military escort?
Mr. SIDDIQI: Benazir Bhutto, like all major political leaders, was given a police escort, but it is obvious that the security was not as tight or as good as it should have been because if this occurred at the main gate as she was leaving, possibly there was a security lapse where people - the security people thought that the rally was over and they could relax. And that was the time when the attackers struck.
STEWART: And for how long had this rally been planned, and what was the original purpose of this rally?
Mr. SIDDIQI: These rallies Benazir Bhutto has been holding all over Pakistan and today was in Rawalpindi, which is the town next to the capital Islamabad. And like all major political party leaders, after the lifting of emergency, they were holding rallies as part of the election - electoral drive. So this was one of several rallies they've held in the past month or so. And this was a rally that was supposed to garner support for a local politician, for her party, to get people to vote for him.
STEWART: We're talking to Kamal Siddiqi with News International as the information is coming into us here at NPR News that Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto has died when there was an attack that happened on a rally earlier today.
Kamal, how many people can you guess or how many people you are reporting that were actually attending the rally today in Rawalpindi?
Mr. SIDDIQI: The figures are not clear, but over 10,000 were at that rally. And because Benazir Bhutto was a very popular leader and quite a crowd puller, so the park was packed at the time of the rally. But at the time she left, possibly half of the people had left the rally. This is what we are being - what we can understand.
STEWART: Now, this is not the first time in as many months that there have been suicide attempts against Benazir Bhutto when she returned to the country back on October 19th. There was another attempt at her life. You mentioned that many of these rallies have been happening in the interim months. Have there been any other attempts or any other (unintelligible) attempts in the past two months?
Mr. SIDDIQI: For Ms. Benazir Bhutto, there was the attempt in October and then this attempt. But for other political leaders, there have been one or two attempts, but there have been such that did not - were not that may have seen as a major threat as in - because the way a small politician or a local leader that was attacked at some point, but nothing of this magnitude.
STEWART: And has there been any word from President Pervez Musharraf about the attack?
Mr. SIDDIQI: Not yet, but the government has said that an inquiry committee has been constituted. At the same time, the other opposition leader, Nawaz Sharif, is at the hospital where Ms. Bhutto died, and he's right now condoling with the party leaders there.
STEWART: All right. Kamal Siddiqi, thank you so much for sharing your reporting with us.
Once again, reporting that Benazir Bhutto, the Pakistani opposition leader, was killed today as the result of an attack at a rally where she was speaking. Stay with NPR News and npr.org for more details on the story as it evolves.
You've been listening to THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News. I'm Alison Stewart.
FUGELSANG: I'm John Fugelsang.
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