At least ten supporters of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan were wounded Sunday when they came under gunfire while en route to an anti-government rally in central Pakistan, police said.
Khan is staging large rallies in the country’s major cities calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and holding of fresh elections.
The incident occurred in Jhelum city in central Punjab province.
“Ten people were wounded in the firing. One of them is critical and has been taken to hospital in Rawalpindi city,” said Jhelum’s police chief Sarfaraz Wirk.
A spokesman for Khan’s Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) said security guards of provincial politician Chaudhry Nadeem Khadim — from Sharif’s ruling PML-N party — were responsible for the incident.
“I know that their people have been injured but first they (PTI activists) opened fire on my house and then my security guards opened fire in defence,” Khadim told private TV channel SAMAA.
Police chief Wirk said: “Both sides are blaming each other for the firing but we will investigate the incident.”
Despite the firing incident, Khan addressed the rally which drew thousands of supporters.
Khan’s PTI party has attracted large crowds in many cities across Pakistan and Sunday’s rally was a part of the anti-government campaign.
Thousands of activist from Khan’s PTI along with populist cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri camped in Islamabad for months since August, seeking the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Qadri called off his protest last month and has left for Canada, where he is normally based, but Khan continues to address supporters from the top of a shipping container outside parliament most evenings.
The protests destabilised Sharif’s government for a while but have so far failed in their stated aim of bringing down his administration. Khan has announced a fresh protest rally in Islamabad on November 30.
Imran Khan (The Singer-Musician) – Amplifier