PAKISTANI opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was killed in a suicide attack as she left an election rally today.

A party aide said that she died at 6.16pm local time at the Rawalpindi General Hospital.

A senior military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to comment, confirmed that Bhutto had died.

Her supporters at the hospital began chanting "Dog, Musharraf, dog," referring to Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf.

Some of them smashed the glass door at the main entrance of the emergency unit, others burst into tears.

Earlier hundreds of riot police had manned security checkpoints to guard the venue of the rally in Rawalpindi. It was Ms Bhutto's first public meeting in Rawalpindi since she came back to the country.

Rahman Malik, Ms Bhutto's security adviser, said: "She was the prime target.

"I have been told by eyewitnesses that someone first opened fire and then detonated the bomb ... We had information that Benazir Bhutto's life is in danger."

Ms Bhutto had just delivered a speech to thousands of supporters, part of her campaign for the January 8 parliamentary elections.

A spokesman for her party said her vehicle was about 50 yards away from blast. "She had just crossed the gate when we heard a deafening sound. We could feel its impact."

Police cordoned off the street with white and red tape, and rescue workers rushed to put victims in ambulances as people wailed nearby.

Body parts, pieces of clothing and party banners were scattered on the street. The clothing of some of the victims was shredded and people put party flags over their bodies. Police caps and shoes littered the area.

Ms Bhutto was rushed to hospital where it was reported that she was undergoing surgery but within minutes, it emerged that she had died from her injuries. At least 15 other people are thought to have died in the blast.