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Top Photographer Captures Final Moments of Democratic Leader
Pulitzer Prize winner takes photos of Bhutto assassination

Jan. 2, 2008--John Moore, a winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News Photography for his coverage of the conflict of Iraq, captured the final moments of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto minutes before she was assassinated last Thursday, just two days after Christmas.

“I ran up, got as close as I got, made a few pictures of her waving to the crowd,” the Getty Images senior staff photographer told CNN's online news service from Islamabad, Pakistan.

Moore told CNN: “I turned around and heard three shots go off, and saw her go down, fall down through the sun roof, down into the car.”

Upon arrival at the campaign rally on Dec. 27, Moore said he was cautious to steer clear of the body search area, where he believed there could easily be a suicide bomber in the crowd. Instead, Moore was about 20 yards away from Bhutto’s vehicle when he took his photographs. A giant fireball surrounded the vehicle following gunshots. Although not in focus, Moore managed to capture the terror by using his camera’s high speed motor drive. Some shots appear blurry as he held his camera in the air as surrounding chaos ensued.

“All I did was raise the camera and begin shooting,” he told the New York Times.

The articulate, seasoned journalist, accustomed to covering war-torn regions, was shocked by his proximity to the murder, telling media that he failed to notice his blood- splattered clothing until he arrived back at his hotel.

In various published reports, Moore said that when he captured Bhutto waving to supporters, moments before he heard gunshots, he was surprised that she rose from the convertible at all. The Rawalpindi rally posed more significant a threat than usual for her because the place and time had been released at least a week beforehand. Generally, Bhutto’s rallies are more spur of the moment, he said.

In the days leading up to the assassination, the former prime minster wrote emails to an associate detailing her fear of being targeted and killed. Whether or not she had an appropriate security detail is still being debated.

Moore’s photos include a stunning side portrait of the female leader moments before her last breath, and photos of her waving of the crowd. The images also include the bloody aftermath of the attack and the reaction of stunned onlookers.

Moore was part of the Associated Press team of 11 photographers who won the top prize given in photography in 2005.

In 2004, Moore travelled to Iraq four times during which time the photographs were shot and he served as Associated Press Photo Editor for the Middle East, based in Cairo. While embedded with the U.S. military, Moore shot the photos included in the winning entry of 20 images.

Beginning in July 2005, he became a senior staff photographer for Getty Images, based in Islamabad, Pakistan and covering South Asia and the Middle East.

Moore is a 1990 Graduate of the University of Texas, College of Communication, with a degree in Radio-Television-Film.

For Moore's Bhutto images visit the New York Times slide show at