Islamabad: Pakistan’s Minorities Minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, has been assasinated by gunmen, who opened fire on his car in the capital, Islamabad. Police said he was travelling to work through a residential district when his vehicle was sprayed with bullets.Police official Mohammad Iqbal said Bhatti, 42, a leader of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party had just left his home in the capital when at least two gunmen ambushed his car this morning. He was rushed to the nearby Shifa hospital, but was dead on arrival. Witnesses said the gunmen escaped in a car after the attack.Television footage showed Bhatti’s vehicle riddled with bullet holes. Reports said it did not have a security escort. According to local media report, no group has said it was behind the attack, but leaflets issued by Tehrik-i-Taliban Punjab, a branch of the Taliban in Pakistan’s most populous province, were found at the ambush site. Bhatti, a Christian, had received death threats after calling for changes to the controversial blasphemy law. In January, Bhatti told the BBC he would defy death threats he had received from Islamist militants for his efforts to reform the blasphemy law.
Bhatti, the only Christian member of Pakistan’s Cabinet, was the second senior leader of the ruling PPP to be assassinated in nearly two months. On January 4, Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer was gunned down by a police guard who was angered by his opposition to the blasphemy law.Â