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Former Pakistan PM Imran Khan shot in lower leg

November 3, 2022

The party of Pakistan's ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan has said he suffered minor injuries after a gunman opened fire at his convoy. While the suspected gunman is in custody, no individual or group claimed responsibility.

Khan gestures .at the march participants as his convoy on its way, in Gujranwala on Tuesday
Khan gestures .at the march participants as his convoy on its way, in Gujranwala on TuesdayImage: PPI/Zumapress/picture alliance

Imran Khan was slightly wounded Thursday after a man opened fire at a container truck the former Pakistani prime minister was riding on alongside his supporters.

Asad Umar, a party official, said Khan had been struck in the foot while traveling in the Wazirabad district of the eastern Punjab province almost 200 kilometers (120 miles) from Islamabad, the capital. Party spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry said a bullet hit Khan's shin.

Khan was not seriously wounded, his camp said, as local media showed images of him waving to supporters while being medically evacuated to a hospital in Lahore. Pakistan's Interior Ministry opened an investigation into the incident as Khan's supporters filled the streets in numerous cities.

Ghazanfar Ali, a district police officer, said one person had been killed and nine were wounded by the shooter.

The doctor treating Khan at a hospital in Lahore confirmed later on Thursday that his condition was stable.

The suspected gunman was apprehended following the shooting. Police later released a video of the suspect confessing, though it was unclear if his statements were made under duress.

"Only Imran Khan was my target,'' the man said in the video. He was identified publicly by Information Minister Maryam Aurangzeb as Faisal B.

The military, which Khan had been at loggerheads with since a no-confidence vote last spring removed him from post, said the shooting was highly condemnable.

What do we know about the incident?

"One man opened fire with an automatic weapon," Umar said.

Another Khan aide, Raoof Hasan, told the AFP news agency, "This was an attempt to kill him, to assassinate him."

Pakistani President Arif Alvi also described the attack on the former prime minister as a "heinous assassination attempt" in a tweet.

Following the assault, Khan was spotted with a bandage above his foot after he was moved to another vehicle from the container truck. His party said several supporters were also wounded.

At the time of the attack, Khan was traveling in a large convoy of cars and trucks toward Islamabad. Once in the capital, Khan hoped to place significant pressure on the government to call early elections.

Since being ousted in a no-confidence vote in the spring, Khan alleges that his removal was orchestrated by Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, his successor. Khan also blames Washington for his ouster.

Both Sharif and the US dispute Khan's characterizations and Sharif has said he has no plans to hold elections prior to those scheduled for 2023.

The White House "strongly" condemned Khan's attack, wishing him and all those injured a swift recovery, while US State Secretary Antony Blinken called on all parties "to refrain from violence, harassment and intimidation."

"The United States is deeply committed to a democratic and peaceful Pakistan, and we stand with the Pakistani people," he said.

What is the political context in which the attempt on Khan's life occurred?

The shooting occurred days after he began his trek from the capital of Punjab province, Lahore, alongside his supporters. The so-called "long march" Khan has orchestrated is in part a response to Pakistan's electoral commission disqualifying Khan from holding office for five years.

Pakistan's powerful military has said that while Khan has a democratic right to hold such rallies, no one will be permitted to destabilize the country.

Islamabad authorities have already bolstered the presence of security forces around the perimeter of the capital in an effort to stymie clashes and violence in advance.

The shooting underscored the political instability Pakistan confronts.

Before entering politics, Khan was a famous cricket star.

ar, rmt/msh (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)