Ousted Pakistan PM Imran Khan shot in shin in what aides call assassination attempt

  • Former cricketer Imran Khan shot from his hood
  • The leader of the march in Islamabad was demanding early elections
  • “It was an assassination attempt,” the aide said
  • Pakistan has a long history of political violence
  • The White House condemned the attack on Khan

LAHORE, Nov 3 (Reuters) – Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan was shot in the leg on Thursday during an attack on his anti-government protest convoy in the east of the country, which his aides said was an assassination attempt on his opponents. .

Khan, who was ousted as prime minister in April in a no-confidence vote in parliament, had been on a six-day protest march to Islamabad, standing and waving to thousands of cheering supporters from the roof of a container truck when gunfire erupted.

As a result of the attack in Wazirabad, about 200 kilometers away from the capital, several members of his convoy were injured. Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said that one suspect has been arrested.

Fawad Chaudhry, a spokesman for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party told Reuters, “It was an obvious assassination attempt. Khan was hit, but he is stable. There was a lot of bleeding.”

“If the shooter had not been arrested by the people there, the entire PTI leadership would have perished.”

Dr. Faisal Sultan, who is also the head of the Lahore hospital where the former prime minister received treatment, said Khan was out of danger. He told reporters that initial tests and X-rays showed bullet fragments in Khan’s leg.

Police have not yet commented on the attack, which has drawn condemnation from the White House.

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In a video statement, Asad Umar, one of Khan’s top aides, said Khan believed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rano Sanoullah and intelligence officer Major General Faisal Nasir were behind the attack. Umar did not provide any evidence to support this claim.

Sanaullah, who spoke to journalists alongside Aurangzeb, denied the allegations and said the Sharif-led coalition government was demanding a powerful independent investigation. Sharif also condemned the shooting and ordered an immediate investigation.

The military press department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the charges against Nasser.

In an earlier statement, the army called the firing “highly condemnable”. The 70-year-old Khan accused the military of supporting his plan to oust him from power. Last week, the military held a press conference and denied the allegations.

Pervaiz Elahi, the chief minister of Punjab, the province where Khan’s party is in power and where the shooting took place, said he was forming a joint investigation team. Elahi said that at first it appeared that there were two attackers.

“I heard gunshots and then I saw Imran Khan and his aides fall into the truck,” witness Gaddafi Butt told Reuters.

“Later, a gunman fired a shot but was caught by an activist of Khan’s party.”

In footage purportedly of the shooting, carried by multiple networks but not confirmed by Reuters, a man with a gun is grabbed from behind by a bystander. Then he tries to run away.

Television reports showed a suspect in the shooting who appeared to be in his twenties or thirties. He said he wanted to kill Khan and acted alone.

“He (Khan) was misleading people and I couldn’t stand it,” the suspect said in the video. The Minister of Information confirmed that the video was recorded by the police.

No one has yet been charged in the attack.

Khan, who was convicted by Pakistan’s election commission of illegal selling of government gifts after he was ousted from office, charges he has denied, had been whipping up large crowds on his way to Islamabad in a campaign to oust Sharif’s government.

A member of Khan’s party said there were reports of one person being killed in the attack.

PROTESTERS IN THE STREETS

Handsome and charismatic, Khan first gained international attention as a cricketer in the early 1970s.

First known as an aggressive bowler with a distinctive bounce move, he went on to become one of the world’s best athletes and a hero in cricket-mad Pakistan, captaining a team of misguided stars with dim prospects for one day. Winning the World Cup in 1992.

His first wife, Jemima Goldsmith, who lives in the UK, expressed her relief that Khan was not in danger on Twitter.

“The news we are afraid of… thank God that he is in good health,” she wrote. “And thanks from his sons to the heroic man in the crowd who fought off the gunman.”

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Pakistan has a long history of political violence. Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was killed in a gun attack and bombing in December 2007 after holding an election rally in the city of Rawalpindi, near Islamabad.

Her father and former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged in the same city in 1979 after being deposed by a military coup.

Local media showed footage Thursday of Khan gesturing to a crowd as people ran and screamed after being pulled from his car after the shooting.

He was taken to the hospital, when protesters in some parts of the country took to the streets and PTI leaders demanded justice.

PTI colleague Faisal Javid, who also had injuries and blood stains on his clothes, told Geo TV from the hospital: “Several of our colleagues have been injured. We have heard that one of them has died.”

After his ouster, Khan held rallies across Pakistan, mobilizing the opposition against the government, which was trying to pull the economy out of the crisis the Khan administration had left it in.

He planned to take the motorcade slowly north up the Grand Trunk Road to Islamabad, gathering more support along the way before entering the capital.

Additional reporting by Aftab Ahmed, Sudipto Ganguly and Tanvi Mehta; Written by Krishna N. Das; Edited by John Stonestreet and Nick McPhee

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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