Pakistan hangs killer of Salman Taseer

Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, a bodyguard who killed Punjab governor Salman Taseer, is photographed after being detained at the site of Taseer's shooting in Islamabad, in this 4 January 2011 file pictureImage copyright

Image caption

Mumtaz Qadri was hailed as a hero by some Islamist groups

Pakistan has hanged the former police bodyguard who shot dead Punjab’s governor over his opposition to blasphemy laws, officials say.

Mumtaz Qadri shot dead Salman Taseer in Islamabad in 2011, a high profile murder that shocked the country.

But he was hailed as a hero by some Islamist groups and thousands of hardline activists protested to show their support for Qadri at the time.

Security forces have been put on alert following the execution.

What are Pakistan’s blasphemy laws?

Prison officials said Qadri was executed at 04:35 local time at Adiala jail in Rawalpindi, near the capital Islamabad.

Just hours afterwards, angry supporters took to the streets to denounce the execution.

News agency AFP reports a heavy police presence, including riot police, in the area around Qadri’s home in Islamabad.

‘Religious duty’

Qadri, who had trained as an elite police commando and was assigned to Taseer as his bodyguard, shot the politician in broad daylight at an Islamabad market in January 2011. He was sentenced to death later that year.

He claimed that it was his religious duty to kill Taseer.

The case rocked Pakistan which has seen Islamist groups grow in influence in recent years.

Qadri was lauded by religious conservatives, and in his first court appearance was showered with rose petals by supporters.

Taseer, who was then the governor of Punjab, was an outspoken critic of the harsh blasphemy law and sought liberal reforms for the legislation.

He was known for defending Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was sentenced to death under the blasphemy laws in 2010 for insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive issue in Pakistan and critics argue that the country’s blasphemy laws are often misused to settle personal scores and unfairly target minorities.

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