March 8, 2016 / 3:12 PM / a year ago

Kidnapped son of slain Pakistani governor rescued after four years

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Shahbaz Taseer poses for a photograph during a family function in Lahore in this August 8, 2009 file photo.M. Abid

QUETTA, Pakistan (Reuters) - The kidnapped son of a Pakistani governor who was murdered after he criticized the country's blasphemy laws was freed on Tuesday, a week after his father's killer was executed, authorities said.

Shahbaz Taseer, in his 30s, had been missing for more than four years, ever since he was abducted in Lahore months after his father, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, was killed in 2011.

The Pakistani army said Shahbaz Taseer had been rescued by intelligence agents in the southwestern province of Baluchistan. Provincial officials confirmed the news.

"Shahbaz was recovered safe and sound," Baluchistan police inspector general Ahsan Mehboob told Reuters. Intelligence agents and counter-terrorism officers found Taseer after receiving information he was being held in a hotel in Kuchlak, 25 km north of Quetta, the provincial capital, Mehboob said.

No arrests were made in the raid, and there was no confrontation with the captors, he added.

Last week, Salman Taseer's former bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri, was hanged for the murder. The killer's funeral attracted tens of thousands of supporters who proclaimed him a hero for defending Islam.

On Monday, a suicide bomber killed at least 10 people near a court, an attack the Pakistani Taliban's Jamaat-ur-Ahrar faction said it had committed to avenge Qadri's execution.

Salman Taseer had spoken in support of a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy and had called for the laws that mandate the death penalty for insulting Islam to be revised. After his death, Taseer's family received multiple threats from religious hard-liners.

On the day of Qadri's execution, another of Taseer's sons, Shehryar, tweeted: "MumtazQadri being hanged is a victory to #Pakistan. NOT the #Taseer family. The safe return of my brother is the only victory my family wants."

Shahbaz Taseer was believed to have been kidnapped originally by the radical Islamist group Lashkar e Janghvi and later handed to al Qaeda and then to the Pakistani Taliban, intelligence sources told Reuters.

Reporting by Syed Raza Hassan and Asad Hashim; Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Larry King

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