ex-PM Imran Khan injured in assassination attempt

Khan, who was overthrown in April by a motion of no confidence, has been leading a « long march » since Friday, bringing together several thousand of his supporters between the city of Lahore (east) and the capital Islamabad, to obtain the holding of early elections.

The former cricket champion was injured by shots fired at him and other officials from his party, who were standing on top of a container placed on top of a slowly moving truck in the middle of the crowd, near Gujranwala (East).

“There was a guy in front of the container holding this automatic gun. He fired a burst. Everyone standing in the front row was hit,” said Fawad Chaudhry, former information minister in the Khan government, behind whom he stood.

According to him, six people who were standing on the container were hit and a bystander was killed.

Political assassinations

Officials of Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI, Pakistan Justice Movement), said he had been taken to a hospital in Lahore for treatment.

In a tweet, Pakistani President Arif Alvi denounced a “heinous assassination attempt”. “I thank Allah that he is safe, but wounded by several bullets in the leg and hope it is not critical”.

Pakistan has struggled for decades with violent Islamist movements that challenge the influence of central power, and several political assassinations have marked the country’s history. This attack brings back the memory of the attack which cost the life in 2007 of Benazir Bhutto, the first woman of the modern era to have led a Muslim country. The sponsors of his assassination have never been identified.

die for his country

Despite his ouster, Khan retains broad support among the population. Since April, he has held large rallies across the country – drawing tens of thousands of supporters – to pressure the fragile ruling coalition.

He keeps rehashing his thesis that his fall was the result of a « conspiracy » hatched by the United States, and relentlessly criticizes the government of his successor, Shehbaz Sharif, as well as the military establishment.

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