ousted Pakistani PM Imran Khan hit in shin in ‘clear assassination’ attempt

  • Former cricketer Imran Khan shot in shin
  • “It was an obvious assassination attempt,” the aide said
  • Khan leads Islamabad march to call for early elections
  • Pakistan has a long history of political violence

Lahore, Nov 3 (Reuters) – Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was shot in the shin on Thursday when his convoy of anti-government protests was attacked in the east of the country, his aides said. It was an apparent assassination attempt.

Khan, 70, who was ousted as prime minister in April, waved to thousands of cheering supporters from the roof of a container truck as gunfire went off after taking part in a six-mile protest march Regards.

Several people in his convoy were injured in the attack in Wazirabad, nearly 200 kilometers (120 miles) from Islamabad, and Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said a suspect had been arrested.

“It was an obvious assassination attempt. Khan was shot but he was stable. There was a lot of bloodshed,” Fawad Chowdhury, a spokesman for Khan’s Pakistan Justice Movement (PTI) party, told Reuters.

“If the shooter hadn’t been stopped by the people there, the entire PTI leadership would have been wiped out.”

In a statement, the military called the shooting “highly condemned.” Khan has accused the military of supporting plans to oust him. Last week, the military held an unprecedented press conference denying the claims.

Witness Qazzafi Butt told Reuters: “I heard a burst of bullets and after that I saw Imran Khan and his assistants fall on the truck.”

“Later, a gunman opened fire but was caught by an activist from Khan’s party.”

In footage of the shooting, allegedly broadcast by multiple channels, a man with a pistol was grabbed from behind by someone at the party. Then he tried to escape.

TV channels showed a suspected gunman who appeared to be in his twenties or thirties. He said he wanted to kill Khan and go it alone.

“He (Khan) misled the people and I can’t stand it,” the suspect said in the video. The information minister confirmed that the video was recorded by police.

No one has yet been charged with assault.

Khan has been stirring up large crowds on his way to the capital Islamabad to overthrow the government of rival Sheikh Baz Sharif.

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

Khan’s aide Chowdhury tweeted: “This was an elaborate assassination attempt on Imran Khan who planned to kill Imran Khan and the leadership of the PTI, not 9mm, but from automatic Exploding in weapons, there are no two opinions about it.”

street protesters

Pakistan has a long history of political violence. In December 2007, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in a shooting and bomb attack after an election rally in the city of Rawalpindi, next to Islamabad.

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

Local media showed footage of Khan waving to the crowd after he was evacuated from his car, who were running and shouting after the shooting.

He was taken to a hospital in Lahore as protesters flooded the streets in some parts of the country and PTI leaders demanded justice.

Faisal Javed, a PTI colleague who was also injured and had blood on his clothes, told Geo TV from the hospital: “Several of our colleagues were injured. We heard that one of them was dead.”

Prime Minister Sharif condemned the shooting and ordered an immediate investigation.

Since being ousted in a parliamentary vote, Khan has held rallies across Pakistan, fueling opposition to a government that is trying to free the economy from the crisis left by Khan’s government.

Khan had planned to lead the motor caravan slowly northward along the main road to Islamabad, getting more support along the way, and then into the capital.

“I want you all to be involved. This is not for political or personal gain, it is not for overthrowing the government… This is for bringing real freedom to the country,” Khan said in a video message on the eve of the march.

Additional reporting by Aftab Ahmed, Sudipto Ganguly and Tanvi Mehta; Writing by Krishna N. Das; Editing by John Stonestreet and Nick Macfie

Our Standard: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Source link