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Pakistan on high alert ahead of minister's funeral

Reuters/Mian Khursheed

Police marksmen took up rooftop positions around Islamabad's main church Friday ahead of the funeral of minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian in the cabinet who was shot dead on Wednesday.

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Police and paramilitary forces shut off roads surrounding the Roman Catholic Fatima Church ahead of the ceremony for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Christians and other religious minorities form about three per cent of Pakistan’s 167 million, mainly Muslim, population.

Dossier: AfPak news and analysis

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who announced three days of mourning, was expected to attend the service.

Bhatti who opposed Pakistan's Islamic blasphemy laws, was shot in broad daylight in a residential area of Islamabad after his attackers fired at least 25 bullets at his vehicle.

In a note found at the scene, supporters of Al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the killing, police said.

Bhatti is the second high-profile victim among opponents of the blasphemy law.

Punjab province governor Salman Taseer was shot dead in January by one of his own bodyguards, who cited the politician's opposition to the blasphemy law as justification for his killing.

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