Islamabad: The killing of Pakistan's Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti earlier this year was due to a chronic family rivalry over property and it had no religious motivation, a media report said on Tuesday.

Bhatti's murder in Islamabad was due to a property dispute between relatives and police concluded the killing was not religiously motivated in their latest report despite the
fact that the Punjabi Taliban had claimed responsibility for the assassination, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.

New clues have led police to a family who left Pakistan due to the rivalry with the Bhattis, said the report by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) that probed the assassination.

"Shahbaz's murder is said to be linked to a chronic rivalry with relatives who lived in Faisalabad five years ago," claimed an investigator associated with JIT.

"We wanted to close the investigation but then we learnt that there was a chronic ethnic and property dispute between the two families which led to Shahbaz's murder," said an unnamed police official.

Bhatti's murderers have fled Pakistan and are currently believed to be in Dubai or Kuala Lumpur, an investigator said. "We will approach Interpol for their arrest," he said.

Interpol has not been contacted for assistance because there are no clues about the exact location of the accused, said an unnamed Interior Ministry official.

Taliban had claimed responsibility for the assassination of Bhatti, who was gunned down a short distance from his home in Islamabad on March 2 as he was driving to work.

His brother Paul Bhatti has said that the murder was plotted by Al Qaeda-linked militant commander Ilyas Kashmiri.

(Agencies)