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Official: Warning signs missed ahead of governor's assassination

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Assassination tells story of Pakistan
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Muhammad Mumtaz Qadri wasn't supposed to guard VIPs, police official says
  • Salman Taseer was apparently killed for opposing Pakistan's blasphemy law
  • The shooting occurred at an Islamabad market

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- A security guard accused of assassinating the governor of Pakistan's Punjab province was banned five months ago by a provincial police official from providing security to VIP personnel, authorities said Wednesday.

The director inspector general of Punjab Police said the guard had extremist views and it had been determined it was unsafe for him to guard important officials, the Pakistani president's special political adviser, Faisal Raza Abidi, told CNN.

Despite the assessment, the Punjab Police employed Muhammad Mumtaz Qadri for security this week.

He is accused of killing Gov. Salman Taseer on Tuesday, allegedly because the governor had spoken out against the country's controversial blasphemy law.

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Taseer was buried on Wednesday. He had been governor of Punjab province since May 2008.

The warning signs about Qadri go back even further, said Rana Shahid Pervez, senior police official in Rawalpindi.

Pakistani intelligence agencies had warned officials in 2004 not to use Qadri after they uncovered connections between him and the religious group Dawat-e-Islami -- a Sunni group that claims it has a closer connection to the Prophet Mohammed than other Muslims.

Pervez said Qadri came from an area of Rawalpindi called Sadiq Abad, adjacent to the capital of Islamabad. He came from a poor family and his father is a laborer who built homes.

Qadri joined the police force in 2002, and was selected for the elite force course in 2008, four years after the warning from intelligence agencies, Pervez said.

Qadri was one of 468 elite force guards in the Rawalpindi Police, which randomly assigns them as escorts to VIPs and officials like Taseer.

Qadri was assigned to the governor on Tuesday. He had been his security guard many times before the shooting, according to Pervez, who disputed the reported link to Dawat-e-Islami.

Qadri "killed the governor totally from his own beliefs regarding Mohammed, and no group was behind him," Pervez said.

The shooting occurred at a market in Islamabad.

Qadri confessed to assassinating Taseer because "he did blasphemy of the Prophet Mohammed," Naeem Iqbal, spokesman for Islamabad police, said Tuesday. Qadri told police Taseer had described the blasphemy law as "the black laws."

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The blasphemy law makes it a crime punishable by death to insult Islam, the Quran or the Prophet Mohammed.

After the shooting, Qadri immediately surrendered to authorities, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported, citing Malik.

Taseer was leaving the market when he was shot. The APP said he had had lunch with a friend at a cafe in the market. Earlier, Iqbal had said Taseer had gone into the market to make some purchases. He was taken to a hospital after the shooting, but died, apparently from blood loss, officials said.

However, Dr. Sharif Astori, spokesman for Poly Clinic Hospital, told CNN Taseer was "already dead when he was brought into the hospital."

Astori said doctors accounted for 26 bullets in his body. Most of the fatal wounds were to his chest, face, neck and legs, he said. Some bullets passed completely through his body.

A spotlight was put on Pakistan's controversial law in November when a Christian woman, Asia Bibi of Punjab province, was sentenced to death for blasphemy. A court found the 45-year-old woman guilty of defiling the name of the Prophet Mohammed during a 2009 argument with fellow Muslim field workers.

An investigation by a Pakistani government ministry found the charges against Bibi stemmed from "religious and personal enmity" and recommended she be released. The government also said it would review the law.

Taseer said he would like to see the law "changed in such a way that it just basically says, if you insult any prophet, no matter who he is, that's a criminal offense, but certainly not punishable by death."

Reaction to Taseer's death was swift.

Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said in a statement he "strongly condemned" the incident. The Pakistan People's Party, the nation's ruling party, said it would observe two weeks of mourning over Taseer's death, according to GEO TV Pakistan.

"I am shocked to hear of the assassination of Salman Taseer," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement. "His death will be a loss to the leadership of Pakistan."

CNN's Nasir Habib and Nosheen Abbas contributed to this report.

 
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