Pakistanis bury slain Christian, warn of extremism

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Bhatti’s assassination drew international condemnation, including from the Vatican and President Obama. Pamphlets left at the scene of the crime said the Taliban and al-Qaida took responsibility. But some hard-liners in the Pakistani religious community and the media have suggested a U.S.-led conspiracy was behind the murder.

In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the U.S. had expressed concerns about Bhatti’s security. But he declined to answer a reporter’s question about whether the U.S. had recommended that an armored vehicle be provided to Bhatti in the weeks preceding his assassination.

“I will not comment on that other than to say that we shared our genuine concerns about his security,” Mr. Crowley said in Washington.

“We are quite aware that he had received multiple death threats,” Mr. Crowley said. “We encouraged the government of Pakistan to do everything possible to provide for his security.”

President Asif Ali Zardari did not attend the funeral Mass or the burial service in Khushpur, though he rarely makes public appearances out of fear for his life. Also notably missing were top leaders of the main opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League-N, which is considered somewhat sympathetic to Islamists.

Despite Mr. Gilani’s promises, few people in Khushpur had any confidence Friday that the Pakistani government, which already has a poor record of catching militants, would make the case of a Christian a priority.

“They have neither the ability nor the will,” said mourner Nasreen Gill.

Associated Press writers Munir Ahmed in Islamabad, Riaz Khan in Peshawar and Bradley Klapper in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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