Pakistani minister shot dead (Second Lead)

March 2nd, 2011 - 2:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, March 2 (IANS) Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian, was gunned down here Wednesday as he left home to attend a key meeting.

Bhatti was leaving his house in Sector I-8 in Islamabad when gunmen in a car opened fire at his vehicle, causing panic in the area.

Bhatti was receiving death threats ever since he accompanied then governor of Pakistan’s Punjab Salman Taseer to a prison to advocate the innocence for a Christian woman who was given death penalty on alleged blasphemy charges.

Taseer was murdered by his official security guard in January while Bhatti restricted his movements after receiving life threats.

The assassination took place at about 11.15 a.m., Xinhua reported.

TV channels quoted eyewitnesses as saying that two gunmen in a white Suzuki car stopped the minister’s car and opened fire at him with automatic guns. The attackers fled after the firing.

The injured minister was rushed to the nearby Shifa International Hospital where he succumbed to his wounds.

Bhatti was a Pakistan Peoples Party leader and also the chairman of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance.

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