The governor of key Pakistani province of Punjab who opposed the controversial blasphemy law was assassinated on Tuesday.

The daylight murder happened in an upscale locality in the capital Islamabad when the governor, Salman Taseer, was stepping out of his car at a shopping area, Reuters reported.

The governor fell down and the man who fired at him threw down his gun and raised both hands, the agency quoted a witness as saying.

Pakistani interior minister Rehman Malik said Taseer, a high-profile member of the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP), was killed by his own guards. An Al Jazeera report said Taseer received nine bullets and was killed instantly, adding that the assassin has confessed to killing the governor.

The policeman has been taken into custody and was reported to have said that he did shoot the governor and that it was because of his views, the channel's correspondent said.

Taseer had vehemently opposed the controversial hard-line blasphemy law under which death penalty is handed out for insulting Islam or its prophet. Human rights activists have said the law is abused by religious extremists and is also often misused by people looking to settle personal scores.

I was under huge pressure 2 cow down before rightest pressure on blasphemy. Refused. Even if I'm the last man standing, Taseer had posted recently on Twitter.