Christian Pakistani minister shot dead in Islamabad ambush
Pakistani Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti, who had called for changes in the country’s controversial blasphemy law, was killed in a gun attack in Islamabad on Wednesday, officials said. Police said the shooting took place near an Islamabad market. Bhatti, a Roman Catholic, was the only Christian in the Pakistani cabinet.
“The initial reports are that there were three men who attacked him. He was probably shot using a Kalashnikov, but we are trying to ascertain what exactly happened,” said Islamabad police chief Wajid Durrani. A hospital spokesman said Bhatti had several bullet wounds.
The anti-blasphemy law has been in the spotlight since last November, when a court sentenced a Christian mother of four to death. On Jan. 4 the governor of the most populous province of Punjab, Salman Taseer, who had strongly opposed the law and sought presidential pardon for the 45-year-old Christian farmhand, was gunned down by one of his bodyguards.
Under the law, anyone who speaks ill of Islam and the Prophet Mohammad commits a crime and faces the death penalty, but activists say the vague terminology has led to its misuse.