Son of assassinated Pakistani governor kidnapped

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 26, 2011 4:14 AM
Son of assassinated Pakistani governor kidnapped

LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) - The son of a Pakistani governor who was killed by his bodyguard for his opposition to a harsh blasphemy law this year was kidnapped in the eastern city of Lahore on Friday, police and the family said.

Four men on motorbikes intercepted Shahbaz Taseer in his car in the upscale Gulberg area and took him to a nearby street before kidnapping him, police said, quoting witnesses.

"Shahbaz was out with a friend when four unidentified people kidnapped him," his brother Shehryar Taseer told Reuters.

Shahbaz Taseer is a director in several companies his father founded, including Pace Pakistan Ltd., First Capital Equities Ltd., Media Times Ltd. and First Capital Securities Corp. Ltd.

"Our family has been receiving threats from the Taliban and extremist groups," Shehryar said, adding they could be behind the abduction.

No one has yet claimed responsibility.

Shahbaz's father governor Salman Taseer, of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, was killed after he came out in support of a woman accused of committing blasphemy.

Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of four, was sentenced to death in a case stemming from a village dispute, putting the country's blasphemy law in the spotlight.

Provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said Shahbaz had been provided an official security detail in addition to the private guards he kept. But he was without security at the time of the incident.

"We are looking into it as to why this lapse happened," he told Reuters.

Shahbaz filed the criminal case against the bodyguard who killed his father in January.

His abduction is the second high-profile kidnapping in Lahore this month.

Police are still searching for an American aid expert who was kidnapped about two weeks ago.

Warren Weinstein, 70, the country director for J.E. Austin Associates Inc., had been working on a project in Pakistan's northwestern tribal areas where Pakistani troops have been battling Islamist insurgents for years.

Up to eight assailants kidnapped Weinstein in a pre-dawn raid on his house in Lahore on August 13.

(Reporting by Mubasher Bukhari and Qasim Nauman; Writing by Rebecca Conway; Editing by Chris Allbritton and Sanjeev Miglani)