November 26, 2022

Islamabad, Pakistan CNN —

Pakistan’s ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan survived a shooting at a political rally on Thursday, which his party described as an assassination attempt that killed one person and wounded several others and sparked protests among Khan’s supporters.

Video of the alleged attack shows Khan waving from an open truck just outside the city of Gujranwala in Punjab province as gunshots rang out and his party members ducked for cover.

A bullet hit Khan in the leg, said Asad Umar, the senior leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), who later added: “Yes, he was shot, there were pellets in his leg, his bone was chipped, he was hit also shot in the thigh.”

Khan was taken from the gathering site for treatment in Lahore, about a two-and-a-half hour drive away, and was in stable condition, Umar added.

A man suspected of shooting at the rally was arrested Thursday, police said. The suspect was arrested with a 9mm handgun and two empty magazines, police said.

On Thursday, Pakistan’s Information Ministry released a video of a confession by an unnamed man who it claims carried out the attack.

In the video, the man says he “wanted to kill Imran Khan” for “misleading people,” adding that he has no accomplices.

“They (Khan’s rallies) played music and shouted from the loudspeakers as the call to prayer took place. I didn’t like it on our floor,” the man in the video allegedly says of his intentions.

CNN cannot verify the circumstances under which the video was taken and is therefore not showing it.

According to Faisal Javed, a senior PTI politician and a close ally of Khan, at least one person who sustained a head wound in the attack was killed in the incident. The victim’s name was not released.

In a video statement, Javed, who can be seen sitting upright during treatment, said: “Please pray for us, for Imran Khan, pray for our seriously injured colleagues and pray for our party member who has died and been martyred. ”

Earlier Thursday, Senator Fawad Chaudhry, a senior PTI politician and former Khan Information Minister, said Khan was undergoing surgery and six others were injured and still being treated.

“We want to know who was behind the incident, what people trained the accused, what mindset this boy was trained to have, how much money he received, where he got it from,” Punjab Provincial Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi said , wrote on Twitter.

Khan was on the seventh day of a nationwide tour during which he held rallies calling for snap elections before next August. The so-called “Long March” began in Lahore on October 28 and was due to end in Islamabad after winding through several Pakistani cities.

It is among a series of rallies the former Pakistani cricket champion has held since his dramatic ouster as prime minister in a no-confidence vote in April. During this time he has repeatedly claimed, without any evidence, that the United States was behind his fall from power.

His claims have struck a chord with a young populace in a country where anti-American sentiment runs high and where the rising cost of living has fueled anti-establishment sentiments.

After the shooting, protests in support of Khan erupted across Pakistan on Thursday, including in Islamabad and Peshawar, where about 800 protesters gathered. They blocked streets for about two hours while holding party flags and chanting anti-army and anti-government slogans.

The video shows a rally where Imran Khan was shot dead

Several PTI politicians addressed the crowd, including Provincial Assembly member Fazal Elahi, who said the attack was part of a conspiracy against the PTI leadership.

“Today we held a peaceful protest that will continue in the future,” Elahi said.

Thursday’s shooting is likely to add to the already tense situation between Khan and Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who has been leading the campaign to have him impeached.

Khan claims that Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and a senior intelligence official, Major General Faisal Naseer, were behind Thursday’s attack.

Khan made the allegations in a statement shared by senior PTI leader Umar, who said he spoke to Khan recently.

“I received information beforehand that this would happen,” Khan said, according to Umar. “These men must be removed from their posts, if they are not removed there will be protests.”

Sanaullah called Khan’s allegations “serious” during a televised address on Thursday.

“Imran Khan has accused me, the Prime Minister and a senior officer. It’s such a painful statement,” Sanaullah said. “It happened in the province where Imran Khan’s party rules,” he said.

“I commend the PTI staff who caught the man trying to shoot Imran Khan. I commend the police and the man who stopped the attacker. There was an atmosphere in which any political etiquette was ignored.”

Sharif, on the other hand, condemned Thursday’s attack on his political rival on Twitter.

“I condemn in the strongest terms the incident of shooting at PTI Chairman Imran Khan,” Sharif wrote, adding that he had asked for an “immediate report of the incident” and would pray for the recovery of those injured.

“Violence should have no place in the politics of our country,” Sharif wrote.

On October 21, Pakistan’s Electoral Commission (ECP) recommended banning Khan from political office for five years, a move likely to exacerbate political tensions in the country.

Reading the recommendation, ECP chief Sikandar Sultan Raja stated that Khan was disqualified for engaging in “corrupt practices”.

The commission said its decision was based on the reasoning that Khan had “made false statements” in relation to explaining the sale of gifts sent to him by the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Dubai during his tenure – an offense committed under the Constitution of the country is illegal.

This is not the first time Pakistani politicians have been attacked.

Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on December 27, 2007, and then Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani survived an assassination attempt in 2008.

On Thursday, the US condemned the attack on the former prime minister. “The United States condemns in the strongest terms the attack on Imran Khan and his supporters and hopes for the speedy recovery of all those injured. Violence has no place in politics,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to New Mexico.

“We call on all parties to remain peaceful and to refrain from violence.”

Correction: A previous version of this story contained an old photo of Imran Khan that was falsely distributed by the Associated Press. It has been removed.