A Pakistani guard shot and killed the manager of a local bank in eastern Punjab province on Wednesday after accusing him of insulting Islam's Prophet Mohammad, police said.
As the guard, Ahmad Nawaz, was being arrested, he started chanting slogans of love for the prophet. It drew the attention of local "Islamists" who rushed to the scene and started hugging the guard in support.
Later, "Islamists" surrounded the police station where Nawaz was being held in the town of Khusab, to express their support for the guard.
The family of the slain bank manager Imran Hanif denied he had committed blasphemy, insisting he loved the prophet.
Blasphemy is a controversial issue in Pakistan, where people convicted of the crime can be sentenced to life in prison or the death penalty. Crowds and individuals often take the law into their own hands to target those they perceive as perpetrators of the offense.
A Punjab governor was killed by his own guard in 2011 after he defended a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who was accused of blasphemy. She was acquitted after spending eight years on death row in a case that drew international attention. Faced with threats from extremists, she later flew to Canada to join her daughters.