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Unidentified relatives of slain Pakistani Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti inspect his bullet-riddled car following an attack in Islamabad on March 2, 2011. – AFP

LONDON: The archbishop of Canterbury expressed “shock and sorrow” Wednesday at the murder of a Catholic Pakistani government minister, saying it increased fears about the security of Christians there.

Archbishop Rowan Williams, the leader of the worldwide Anglican church, urged Pakistan to protect minorities after Shahbaz Bhatti was shot dead in broad daylight in a residential area of Islamabad.

“It is with the greatest shock and sorrow that we have heard of the assassination of Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti, minister for religious minorities in Pakistan,” he said in a joint statement with Archbishop of York John Sentamu.

“This further instance of sectarian bigotry and violence will increase anxiety worldwide about the security of Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan, and we urge that the government of Pakistan will do all in its power to bring to justice those guilty of such crimes and to give adequate protection to minorities.

“Meanwhile, we assure Mr Bhatti's family of our prayers and deep sympathy, and promise our continuing support for all those of whatever faiths who are working for justice and stability in Pakistan.”

Bhatti, a member of Pakistan's tiny Christian community, had been a vocal opponent of the country's controversial blasphemy law despite receiving death threats following the murder of another politicianopposed to the law.