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Pakistan interior minister injured in gun attack

May 6, 2018

Ahsan Iqbal is being treated in a hospital after an assassination attempt. He was shot after a public meeting ahead of federal elections later this year.

Pakistani Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal talking to media
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/NA. Naveed

Pakistan's Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal survived a suspected assassination attempt on Sunday when he was shot by a man after a public meeting in Punjab province.

The attack is likely to heighten political tensions in Pakistan as it gears up for federal elections expected later this year.

Read moreAhead of elections, Pakistan heads toward more political chaos

What we know so far

  • Iqbal was returning to his car after a public meeting in Narowal district when the attacker shot at him from a close range.
  • The bullet wounded Iqbal in his shoulder.
  • Police said the attacker was about to fire a second shot when he was overpowered by police and bystanders.
  • Iqbal has been taken to a hospital in Lahore where he is said to be out of danger.
  • The 22-year-old assailant was immediately arrested. Police are trying to ascertain his motive.
  • Reuters news agency said police believe the suspect was affiliated to the new ultra-religious Tehreek-e-Labaik party.

Read morePakistan court disqualifies Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif for breaking election laws

Widespread condemnation

Senator Raja Zafar Ul Haq, chairman of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, condemned the attack on Iqbal. "We need to revisit and redefine our security policies," Haq told DW's correspondent in Islamabad, Shah Meer Baloch.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi "strongly condemned" the attack on Iqbal and has sought an immediate report from Punjab's police chief.

Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif tweeted: "Strongly condemn the assassination attempt on my friend Ahsan Iqbal... Just spoke to him & he is in high spirits."

Opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) chief and former cricket star Imran Khan also condemned the attack.

Read morePakistan's Hazara standoff: why did the army mediate?

Series of blows: The attack on Iqbal, a senior member of the ruling party, comes at a time his party is trying revitalize its supporters after a series of blows to its top leadership, including the disqualification of deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from ever holding office.

While condemning the attack, Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, the minister of maritime affairs and head of the National Party, suggested that "religious extremists could be behind the attack on Ahsan Iqbal." "This attack is a warning to Pakistan's democratic forces ahead of the general election this year," Bizenjo told DW.

Read moreOpinion: Pakistan needs ex-PM Sharif's political role now more than ever

Who is Ahsan Iqbal: The interior minister is a staunch supporter of Sharif. A US-educated lawmaker from a political family long associated with the PML-N party, Iqbal was one of the contenders for the prime minister's job when Sharif was ousted last July.

Federal elections: Political parties in Pakistan are gearing up for federal elections, which are widely expected to be held in July.

ap/aw (Reuters, AFP)

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