Imran Khan Shot At Rally In Pakistan, 1 Killed, Many Injured

Former PM Imran Khan minutes before the attack at Wazirabad in Gujranwala district.

Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan was rushed to a Lahore hospital after he was wounded in firing at his rally in Wazirabad in Pakistan’s Punjab on Thursday afternoon. A supporter was killed and 13 others were injured in what his party called an “assassination attempt” on the former cricketer during his ongoing march to Islamabad against the army establishment-backed central government.

His right leg bandaged, Mr Khan, 70, was seen waving as he was shifted into an SUV — an early indication that the injury wasn’t critical. He was later reported “out of danger”.

The attack brought back chilling memories of how another former PM, Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated during a rally in 2007.

A police video later showed the attacker, who was overpowered and arrested, saying he was not backed by anyone. “I wanted to kill Imran Khan as he’s been misleading the people,” he said on camera. There were unconfirmed reports of another gunman, with an automatic rifle, at the spot.

The attacker, a young man, fired pistol shots from below at Imran Khan as he stood atop a container-truck, which serves as the centrepiece of his ‘Haqeeqi Azadi’ (True Freedom) March against the Shehbaz Sharif government.

At least four of Imran Khan’s party leaders were among those injured, one of whom — parliamentarian Faisal Javed Khan said a supporter was “martyred”.

Imran Khan was taken to Lahore’s Shaukat Khanam Hospital, 100 km away, that he’d got built in his mother’s memory in the 1990s.

The attack in Gujranwala district, about 200 km from Islamabad, came just seven months after Imran Khan’s government fell upon losing the defence establishment’s confidence. He has since been campaigning against the army and intelligence agency ISI’s “interference” that “has undermined democracy by installing a puppet government”.

What PM Sharif Said

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the firing and directed Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah to seek an immediate report from the police and administration.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari of the PPP, whose mother Benazir was killed in similar firing, said: “I strongly condemn the attack on Imran Khan. I am praying for his swift recovery.”

Imran Khan’s party — Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) — has raised fingers at the central government and demanded answers from Punjab’s provincial government, which is run by another party.

Once seen as having been “selected” by the army — he served about four years until last April — Mr Khan has been marching to demand resignation of the new government formed by his two main opponents that are each other’s rivals otherwise, the Sharifs’ Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and the Bhuttos’ Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

Quick Turn Of Events

Barely an hour before the firing, Imran Khan had told supporters in another part of Wazirabad town, where he was scheduled to deliver a speech, that they should accompany him to a different area instead, and promised to speak there, Geo reported.

His party tweeted a video showing him boarding the container-truck from his black SUV.

The firing took place minutes later as he got to the roof for his speech.

The gunman fired from a pistol from the left side of where Imran Khan was standing; he could not get close enough for a clear shot in a tight crowd, reports said. A party worker grabbed his forearm and dragged him to the ground.

The man killed was identified as Moazzam, 35.

Those injured included Ahmad Nasir Chattha, son of local legislator Hamid Nasir Chattha, shot in both legs. A 13-year-old child received a bullet in the abdomen.

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