Shahbaz Bhatti assassinated

Minister of minorities killed in the I-8/3 area of Islama­bad by three uniden­tified gunmen.

Express/Afp March 02, 2011

Federal Minister for Minority affairs Shahbaz Bhatti was killed in the I-8/3 area of Islamabad on Wednesday morning by three unidentified gunmen.

According to reports, the Tehrik-i-Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on the minister.

Screen captures of the pamphlet can be viewed here.

The minister had left his house moments ago when his car was intercepted by a white Suzuki Mehran. Assailants, dressed in shalwar kurtas, first took the minister's driver out the car and then shot 25 bullets at Bhatti.

‘Not a security lapse’

According to IG Islamabad, this was not a security lapse as escorts were provided to Bhatti, which he was not using. The minister had apparently instructed his security to wait at the office in I-8/4.

"The squad officer told me that the minister had directed him to wait for him at his office. He used to often visit his mother's house without a squad," Durrani said. "We are investigating the matter from different angles."

Bhatti had been receiving death threats and he had requested the government for more security. He was provided with four guards by the interior ministry.

Local resident Naseem Ahmed said the firing continued for about 30 seconds.

"We came out of our home after hearing the gunfire, we saw the car, it was badly damaged. We saw the minister, he was rushed to hospital in a critical condition," Ahmed told reporters.

Bhatti was dead on arrival at Islamabad's Shifa hospital, doctor Azmatullah Qureshi confirmed. Police said his body was riddled with at least eight bullets.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani visited the hospital and offered condolences to Bhatti's grieving relatives.

"Such acts will not deter the government’s resolve to fight terrorism and extremism," he said, adding that the killers would not go unpunished.

The highest target

Earlier, Bhatti had voiced his fears that he believed he would be "the highest target" following the assassination of Governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer for speaking out against the blasphemy law.

Bhatti had said fatwas, or religious decrees, had been issued calling for him to be beheaded, by extremist clerics in the country who were allowed to publicly spread messages of violence with impunity.

After the Pakistani Taliban said that they killed the Christian minister, former MNA and chief of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, Sindh chapter Asadullah Bhutto said the assassination was an attempt by the CIA to divert the attention of masses from Raymond Davis.

“Accepting the responsibility of killing the minister soon after the incident by ‘Punjabi Taliban’, as reported by media, is an ample proof that the CIA is behind this crime because the US spy agency had been staging such ‘dramas’ of ‘Punjabi Taliban’ after committing the crimes of same nature earlier,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

International condemnation

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday she was "shocked and outraged" by the slaying of Bhatti.

"I was shocked and outraged by the assassination," Clinton told a Senate committee, adding it was also an attack on "the values of tolerance and respect."

Senior US Senator John Kerry condemned the incident as a "particularly chilling" terrorist attack.

"Coming so soon after the killing of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, another strong advocate for tolerance and moderation, today's act of terrorism is particularly chilling," Kerry said in a statement.

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay urged the Pakistan government to support reforms of Islamic blasphemy laws as she condemned the killing of a Bhatti.

"I urge the government of Pakistan to honour the courageous stand of Mr Bhatti and Mr Taseer by supporting their position on the blasphemy laws," the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said the murder of Bhatti was "absolutely brutal and unacceptable".

“It was absolutely shocking news," Cameron told the House of Commons.

"I will send not only our condolences but our clearest possible message to the government and people of Pakistan that this is simply unacceptable," he added.

The archbishop of Canterbury expressed "shock and sorrow" at the murder and the Vatican condemned it as an "unspeakable" act of violence.

End of Live updates

1:33 pm

Twitter reactions
sabeen Sabeen Mahmud

Protest against the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti at Karachi Press Club today at 5:30pm. Please be there.

@SufyanArshadSufyan Arshad

Very sad to know about assasination of a very brave and talented #Pakistan's son, Federal Minister Shahbaz Bhatti. I had honour to meet him

1:17 pm

President Asif Ali Zardari and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz condemn the killing of Shahbaz Bhatti.

Shahbaz Bhatti had requested for more security after receiving death threats. The interior ministry had provided him with four guards.

Twitter reactions
@Saba_ImtiazSaba Imtiaz

Shahbaz Bhatti: “I cannot trust on security…. I believe that protection can come only from heaven, so these bodyguards can’t save you.”

@marvi_memonMarvi Memon

Shahbaz bhatti was a good colleague. Shell shocked.

@kaalakawaaKala Kawa

Comment on @etribune "Its all a international conspiracy to turn Pakistan into a failure state." I'd say we're doing a bang up job ourselves

aysharalam aysharalam

There will be a protest today at 3pm in front of LHR press club against the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti. please RT

Catch up on the blasphemy issue by clicking here and view blogs posted on the website on the issue here.

For information on Salmaan Taseer's assasination click here and view blogs posted on the website on the issue here.

1:09 pm

Shahbaz Bhatti is in the top ten trends worldwide on Twitter.

1:05 pm

Shahbaz Bhatti's body has been shifted to Pims Hospital for postmortem.

1:01 pm

IG Islamabad Wajid Durrani speaking to the media said that Bhatti had a cabinet meeting this morning. He left his residence at around 10:30 am and was heading to his office in I-8/4, when he was intercepted. Three to four assailants in shalwar kameez, who were in a white Mehran shot at the minister but did not attack the driver.

According to Durrani, it was the minister's instructions to keep the security at the office. He said it was not a security lapse because he was provided with the required escorts. The police will investigate why the escorts did not accompany the minister.

Twitter reactions
Saba_Imtiaz Saba Imtiaz

Shahbaz Bhatti: “I cannot trust on security…. I believe that protection can come only from heaven, so these bodyguards can’t save you.”

mshafiquk Mohammed Shafiq

I utterly condemn the murder of #Pakistani Minister for Minorities#Shahbaz #Bhatti killed in a gunattack in #Islamabad

12:45 pm

Political analyst Hassan Askari says the message of the assailants is clear that those who disagree with their perspective are in danger.

Askari says the government has failed in providing security for its people. This incidence increases the insecurity of the minorities. The responsibility to address this issue is the responsibility of the government.

Twitter reactions
hiranajam hiranajam

RIP Shahbaz Bhatti - we're so not worth your life. or any life for that matter.

FACE2FACE2009 AQK

Pakistani minister assassinated: Pakistani Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, who had tried to reform the count...http://bbc.in/dHGc4q

PiyuK Priya Kapoor

And the madness in Pakistan continues with Shahbaz Bhatti's murder. Ironic - isn't it blasphemous to take a god given life?!

12:35 pm

According to an eye witness the assailants were waiting for the minister in a white car. As soon as Bhatti reached the site, they turned the car around and blocked the minister's vehicle. The assailants then took the driver out first and then shot at the minister.

12:27 pm

The hospital is not allowing any entry of unidentified people inside the building.

Twitter reactions
husainhaqqani Husain Haqqani

by nafysa_khan

RT @shehrbanotaseer: Shaheed Shahbaz Bhatti made Aug11 national minorities day,increased salaries of minority workers,condemned violence

DEEP_no_borders Rao Varun Liaqat

by jasmeetbagri

Federal Minister 4 Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti murdered in Islamabad today. He is another victim of terrorism. May his soul rest in peace.Amen

12:22 pm

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has reached the Shifa International Hospital.

Shahbaz Bhatti's body will be moved to PIMS hospital later to carry out the autopsy.

The bullet ridden car is standing outside the hospital. It will be shifted to another location where a forensic investigation will be conducted.

12:18 pm

There was one guard accompanying the minister and reports indicate that sufficient security was not provided to Bhatti.

Twitter reactions
Saba_Imtiaz Saba Imtiaz

by MirzaWaheed

The threats against leading figures in #Pakistan, including ShahbazBhatti, who has reportedly been killed today http://bit.ly/fW810p

Razarumi Raza Rumi

Yes!! @fispahani: @Razarumi Shahbaz Bhatti had been receiving threats of beheading for some months.

12:13 pm

Bhatti's family and his close friends along with political supporters are at the hospital.

Twitter reactions
premasridevi prema sridevi

Shahbaz bhatti had earlier said tat he wud defy islamist militants and would go ahead to reform pakistan's blasphemy laws

ovaisjafar Ovais Jafar

??!?! Shahbaz #Bhatti had instructed that squads were to join him only at his office and not escort him otherwise.

12:09 pm

Shahbaz Bhatti was using with a bullet proof car when the incident took place.

12:05 pm

Bhatti's driver tried to rush the minister to the hospital but he succumbed to his injuries.

12:02 pm

"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.

Senior Superintendent Police Islamabad Tahir Alam has reached the residence of the minister.

11:57 am

Unconfirmed reports say that the minister was stopped, pulled out of the car and shot at short range by the assailants.

Reports also indicate that Bhatti's niece was travelling with him when the incident took place.

Twitter reactions
pakistanpolicy What was Shahbaz Bhatti's 'crime?' That he wanted to be a full and equal citizen in the country of his birth?

fispahani May God bless my friend and colleague Shaheed Shahbaz Bhatti's soul. He was a brave man and gentle in his ways. #pakistan

11:53 am

Pamphlets have been found at the ambush site. According to initial reports, the pamphlets were dropped by Tehrik-i-Taliban Punjab.

The deputy commissioner has ordered an inquiry.

11:50 am

Bhatti was ambushed moments after he left his residence.

Security has been tightened in Islamabad.

11:45 am

The police has started its investigations.

Reports indicate that the minister's driver survived the attack.

11: 39 am

Dr Azmatullah Qureshi of the Shifa Hospital confirms the death of Shahbaz Bhatti.

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COMMENTS (259)

Fayyaz Shah | 9 years ago | Reply | Recommend Absolute Governments corrupts absolutely, Religions are the flowers of wisdom not the ammunition for suppressing the other. If you put the messages of all the Religion together you might come up with the actual language of Peace and Harmony. Each message came at a particular time but its was always the same. Be good, do good, mind your own friggin' business and not somebody Else's.
Fayyaz Shah | 9 years ago | Reply | Recommend @jimmy: I think the Azaans should be on FM and the Jahil Mulla's should be hanged upside down so blood can reach their brains.
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