Pakistani governor assassinated by own guard

The governor of Pakistan's Punjab province has been killed by his own bodyguard, police say — in what is being called the highest-profile political assassination since Benazir Bhutto's death in 2007.

Salman Taseer's death called highest-profile assassination since Benazir Bhutto

Police in Pakistan say the governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, was assassinated by his own bodyguard Tuesday in an Islamabad market.

Taseer's death is being called the highest-profile political assassination since the death of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in December 2007.

Police official Mohammad Iftikhar said Taseer was shot by one of his elite protection squad in an area known as Khosar market, where he apparently went to meet someone for a meal.

Shaukat Kayani, a doctor at Poly Clinic Hospital, said the governor was shot 26 times.

Salman Taseer, who was governor of Punjab province, speaks to the media in Islamabad in 2009. A gunman killed Taseer, a senior member of the ruling party, in Islamabad on Tuesday. ((Faisal Mahmood/Reuters))

Taseer was a member of Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party and was closely tied to President Asif Ali Zardari, who was Bhutto's husband. 

Taseer was also a vocal member of Pakistan's ruling party and has spoken out against Pakistan's blasphemy law.

Recently, Taseer called for Asia Bibi to be pardoned. Bibi is a Christian woman who has been sentenced to death for allegedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's minister for minorities, said Taseer had received death threats for his statements about Bibi.

Iftikhar said the gunman, who was identified as 26-year-old Mumtaz Qadri, was taken into custody.

An intelligence official who interrogated Qadri told The Associated Press that the gunman had claimed he was proud he killed a blasphemer.

Officials are investigating how Qadri ended up in Taseer's security detail.

With files from The Associated Press