ISLAMABAD: PTI chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan survived an assassination attempt on Thursday while leading the long march in Wazirabad district.
Imran was standing and waving to cheering supporters from the roof of his container truck when a gunman opened fire on him and several other party leaders.Video footage of the attack showed the PTI leaders ducking for cover as a burst of shots rang out over music playing from the crowd.
Senator Faisal Javed, former Sindh governor Imran Ismail, Ahmed Chattha and Umar Dar received bullets.The Punjab Police confirmed that seven people were injured and a person was killed during the firing incident. As per the police, the deceased was identified as Muazzam Nawaz.
In a purported footage of the shooting run by multiple channels, the gunman was grabbed from behind by a young man. The police arrested the accused and shifted him to an unknown place.
PTI senior leader and former federal minister Asad Umer said Imran Khan and other injured received bullets in their legs. Two bullets hit Imran in the leg.“Khan was hit in the foot, but his condition is stable,” PTI senior leader Asad Umar told reporters. He said Imran was receiving medical treatment in Lahore. “Five to six other party leaders, who were atop a truck with Khan, were also injured. One person is in serious condition,” Asad said.
Meanwhile, in a video statement, Asad Umar said Khan believed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan and an agency official were behind the attack.
“It was a clear assassination attempt. Khan was hit but he’s stable. There was a lot of bleeding,” PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry told reporters. “If the shooter had not been stopped by people there, the entire PTI leadership would have been wiped out,” he added. Asad said Imran summoned him and senior party member Aslam Iqbal to issue a statement on his behalf that he had some prior information about the attack.
“I have belief that these three people, namely Shehbaz Sharif, Rana Sanaullah and an agency official got carried out this murderous attack on me on the basis of information I have already received,” Asad Umar quoted the PTI chairman as telling him.
Imran, he continued, demanded that these three must be removed from their present positions. “If this was not done, then there would be agitation throughout the country. This is not possible that Pakistan should continue with normal conditions without their removal,” Asad said quoting Imran.
“I talked to Imran Khan, as there were reports that Imran Khan’s life was in danger. However, he said we should leave this to Allah. Imran Khan demanded that these three people should be removed from their posts. We are waiting for Imran Khan’s nod. If these people are not removed, there will be countrywide protests,” he said.
“Imran Khan was shot in the leg. His CT scan has been done. If anyone had the slightest doubt it should have been cleared today as Imran Khan was saying again and again that he, for the freedom of this nation, is ready to sacrifice his life,” he added.
He quoted Imran as saying that the attack will not dampen their determination and they will give a tough fight. Asad said the long march will begin from 11am on Friday (today).
Aslam Iqbal strongly condemned the assault and announced that they were going for registration of an FIR against the three mentioned by Imran Khan.
“We are sharing this statement with the IGP concerned for registration of FIR while the Punjab chief minister has announced constitution of a JIT for investigation into the attack,” he explained.
Quoting the police, a news channel reported that the attack was launched from three directions and at least three individuals were involved.Police and eyewitnesses said bullets were fired from three directions. One of the assailants, they said, fired at the container from the roof of a nearby workshop.
Earlier, it had been claimed that there was only one attacker who had been apprehended by a member of the crowd. He was identified as Naveed ‘Thua’ (Punjabi slang for scorpion). He confessed to launching the attack unilaterally in a confessional video statement recorded and released by the police.
The suspect was sent to the Saddar police station in Gujrat. Police said they had recovered a 9mm handgun from the suspect along with four magazines.Another man had then been arrested by the police.
Meanwhile, the Punjab Police have said that they are searching for a third one with a search operation launched in the area using sniffer dogs. The police have cordoned off the PTI container with forensics collecting evidence.
The attacker has confessed to taking a shot at Khan’s life in a video released after his arrest.The suspect said he tried to assassinate Imran because “he was misleading the people.”
“I could not stand it … and tried to kill Imran Khan. I tried … I tried my best to kill Khan and only Khan and not anyone else,” said the shooter, who was collared by the police near the shooting scene. “I thought they were violating [the sanctity of] Azaan by playing loud music [on their sound system]. My conscience could not deal with it and I took action.” When asked whether it was an involuntary action or premeditated, the shooter first said it was a “spontaneous decision” that he took on the spot.
He then modified his statement and said no “I decided to do it this morning”. However, in the third version of his statement, the gunman said he had planned to shoot Khan since his departure from Lahore. “And I will not spare him,” the suspect added.
When asked who was supporting him, the shooter denied association with any group or political party. “Praise the Lord, I acted alone. I did not have anyone to back me up for the shooting.”
The gunman is in police custody and is being interrogated for further clues. Meanwhile, Ibtisam, the man who pinned down the shooter preventing further damage, said the attacker did not come prepared.
“He shot just once. The pistol was automatic and set to the burst mode so the shooting did not stop until the clip was empty.” Ibtisam, who shot to a hero’s status, regretted failing to stop the shooter before he had pulled the trigger.
Following the incident, PTI workers took to the streets countrywide and burnt tires and blocked roads. They expressed their anger at the incident and recorded their protest with the authorities. They chanted slogans in support of Imran Khan and against the coalition government.
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