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Doubts emerge over whether Qadri acted alone

world Updated: Jan 06, 2011 15:50 IST

Suspicion has grown over whether the Pakistani policeman who assassinated Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer acted on his own or was assisted in the act following emergence of a raft of evidence that he had been declared unfit for guarding VIPs because of his extremist leanings.

Several police officials have confirmed that Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, the Elite Force personnel who gunned down Taseer on Tuesday, was removed from Rawalpindi Police's Special Branch about 18 months ago after then regional police chief Nasir Khan Durrani described him as a "security threat".

Despite a recommendation that Qadri, 26, should not be assigned to guard VIPS because of his extremist views, he was deputed to Taseer's security detail on five previous occasions.

Investigators probing the assassination have sought a report from Rawalpindi Police to fix responsibility in this regard.

An investigation team is interrogating eight other personnel of the Elite Force who did not take any action when Qadri shot the Governor at very close range.

Taseer was hit by at least 26 bullets and some reports said Qadri changed the magazine of his assault rifle and continued firing.

Investigators were of the opinion that the failure of the other guards to stop Qadri as he fired three bursts had strengthened "the suspicions of a conspiracy," the Dawn newspaper quoted its sources as saying.

"It makes no sense that personnel who were on duty did not retaliate despite carrying active firearms... This is why the perception that the rest of the guards had some inkling about Qadri's intention is gaining strength," an unnamed official told the daily.

"Every aspect is being considered," another official said.

Investigators are trying to determine whether Qadri's colleagues were only in the know of his plan to kill Taseer or if they assisted him.

Qadri had reportedly told his colleagues of his intention to kill the Governor and even said he would surrender after the act.

Sleuths are also probing Qadri's background and collecting information from his neighbours, relatives and friends following reports that he had attended several meetings and rallies organised by religious hardliners in the recent past.

Qadri often wore a green turban, which he removed only when he put on his uniform.