Pakistan police have arrested eight men in connection with the March 2011 assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, a cabinet minister who had spoken out against the country’s blasphemy laws, according to Pakistan news reports.

Bhatti, the minister for minority affairs, urged reform of laws that make it a crime to insult a religion. The laws, hugely popular among voters, have been widely criticized by human-rights groups as a pretext to settle personal scores and squeeze religious minorities, most especially Christians. Bhatti was attacked by gunmen as he left his home in his car.

The Pakistan Tribune reports that two men, Hammad Adil and Muhammad Tanveer, were arrested around Sept. 1 during a police raid that also yielded a car loaded with explosives. The Tribune, citing Islamabad police, said Adil confessed to the killing. Further arrests were made in the following days.

Sources: Tribune; Lahore Times