The Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, just seconds before she was assassinated leaving an election rally near the capital, Islamabad, on Thursday.
Witnesses said Ms. Bhutto was fired upon by a gunman at close range, quickly followed by a blast that the government said was caused by a suicide attacker.
Ms. Bhutto, a former prime minister of Pakistan, was declared dead by doctors at a hospital close to the park where the rally had been taking place. At least a dozen more people were killed in the attack.
Amid the confusion after the explosion, the site was littered with pools of blood. Shoes and caps of party workers were lying on the asphalt, and shards of glass were strewn about the ground. Pakistani television cameras captured images of ambulances pushing through crowds of dazed and injured people at the scene of the assassination.
The assassination comes just days after Pakistan’s president, Pervez Musharraf, lifted a state of emergency in the country, which he had used to suspend the Constitution and arrest thousands of political opponents, and which he said he had imposed in part because of terrorist threats by extremists in Pakistan.
Ms. Bhutto had been warned by the government before her return to Pakistan that she faced threats to her security. In October, Ms. Bhutto survived another deadly suicide attack in the southern city of Karachi on the day she returned from years of self-imposed exile abroad to contest the parliamentary elections.