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'Long live Bhutto' were Benazir's last words
December 30, 2007 22:39 IST
Long live Bhutto - these were the last words of former Pakistan premier Benazir Bhutto [Images] before she was killed in Rawalpindi on Thursday, a media report claimed on Sunday.
"She (Bhutto) did not say anything more," Safdar Abbassi, the slain PPP leader's chief political advisor, who was sitting behind her in the vehicle, told the Sunday Telegraph.
"All of a sudden there was the sound of firing. I heard the sound of a bullet. I saw her (Bhutto): she looked as though she ducked in when she heard the firing. We did not realise that she had been hit by a bullet," Abbassi said.
He said he had looked up to see Bhutto sliding back through the aperture in the roof of her car and moments later, the vehicle was rocked by a huge explosion and there was no sound from Bhutto.
Abbassi said that when he leaned forward to see what was wrong, he thought she had escaped unhurt but later noticed the blood, which was seeping from a deep wound on the left side of her neck.
He said his wife Naheeb Khan cradled Benazir's head in her lap, reaching up for her own headscarf, pulling it from her head, pressing it into the wound, trying to stem the flow.
But the wound was deep and the blood seeped out, spreading down her neck and across her blue tunic.
Abbassi recalled that after her address to the crowd was over, "As she walked from the podium, she turned and urged me to join her in working the crowd," adding, Bhutto said, "Why don't you join me?"
"Bhutto was smiling and extremely happy. She took me inside the car and sat in front of me. I started chanting slogans because there were crowds all around," he told the paper.
Abbassi said when he shouted Nar-e Bhutto (let's cheer for Bhutto), Bhutto replied, Jeay Bhutto (long live Bhutto).
"When the bullets were fired, we thought she (Bhutto) had ducked in but she had not, she had fallen down. She did not say a single word. For a few seconds we thought she was confused by the firing and that is why she was not talking. We did not realise," he said.
Abbassi said that before anyone had a chance to speak, the attackers detonated explosives, peppering the vehicle with ball bearings.
"There was a big bang. Some of the shrapnel hit the car and then the driver sped away. There was a huge bang and everyone was running from one place to the other but the vehicle was still moving," he said.
And inside the car, realisation was dawning. "We saw the blood, it was everywhere, on her neck and on her clothes and we realised that she had been hit. She could not say anything," Abbassi said.
He said Bhutto was alive when she was carried into the intensive care unit of the Rawalpindi General Hospital.
"The doctors really tried their best but it was too late. I was so optimistic. I thought nothing would happen to her. I still feel she is alive. I cannot believe she is no more with us," Abbassi told the newspaper.