Pakistan: Imran Khan shot in the leg at rally

Former prime minister Imran Khan was shot during a rally in the east of Pakistan on Thursday, in what his supporters called an “assassination attempt”.

Mr Khan, who was leading a protest march on the capital Islamabad to demand snap elections, was shot in the leg and required surgery to remove bullet fragments from his shin.

The attack took place as the former prime minister stood on a container lorry. Some of his supporters were also injured, and police say at least one bystander was killed.

“This was an attempt to kill him, to assassinate him,” Raoof Hasan, a senior Khan aide, told AFP.

One suspected attacker was shot dead and another was taken into police custody, he told the news agency. Others reported one assailant who was then apprehended by the authorities.

Police later released footage of the suspect, who said he had solely targeted Mr Khan for “misleading the people.”

Political violence has rocked Pakistan for decades. Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in December 2007 after holding an election rally in the city of Rawalpindi.

The entire leadership of Mr Khan’s party would have been “wiped out” if Thursday’s shooter had not been stopped by the crowd, spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry told Reuters.

A video shared online shows an armed man being wrestled to the ground by a member of the crowd.

Senator Faisal Javed Khan, who was wounded, urged supporters to pray for Mr Khan in a video posted to social media.

One party member was killed and several injured in the attack, he told GeoTV, vowing to continue the march on the capital.

Footage showed a bandaged Mr Khan limping and waving to crowds following the attack. He is now being moved to a hospital in Lahore.

Thousands have joined the former premier for the 380-kilometre march — stopping for rallies — from Lahore over the next week. He had urged supporters from his Tehreek-e-Insaf party to avoid violence as they marched to the capital.

Security has been boosted around Islamabad in anticipation of large crowds.

Current prime minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the attack and has called for an investigation. Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi also called it “a heinous assassination attempt”.

“Violence should have no place in our country’s politics,” Mr Sharif said on Twitter.

Mr Khan was removed from his role as prime minister in April after a no-confidence vote but remains hugely popular in the country.

Voted into power in 2018 on an anti-corruption platform, his handling of the economy and fallout with the military led to his downfall.

He has claimed that his fall from power was engineered by the US and his successor Mr Sharif ― allegations the US and the prime minister have denied.

His supporters recently held protests after Pakistan’s top election tribunal found him guilty of unlawfully selling gifts received from foreign dignitaries and heads of state, barring him from holding public office for five years.

He has since challenged the ruling.

Mr Khan has repeatedly told supporters he was prepared to die for the country, and aides have long warned of unspecified threats made on his life.



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