Pakistani policeman killed, ex-PM Khan supporters arrested

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People cross a bridge on Ravi River which is closed for traffic in an attempt to foil a planned protest in Lahore. AP

Gulf Today Report

Pakistan’s key opposition party led by recently ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan accused police of detaining hundreds of its supporters in raids that started early Tuesday. A policeman was killed during one of the raids, when a supporter of the former premier opened fire.

The police operation was an attempt to foil a planned protest seeking to force Pakistan’s new government into calling early elections, the party said.

Fawad Chaudhry, a spokesman for Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party, said police launched the operation shortly after midnight on Monday. Homes of the party’s supporters were still being raided on Tuesday morning and at least 400 supporters from the party were arrested across the country, Chaudhry said.


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Khan condemned the arrests on Twitter. Authorities confirmed the raids but refused to share details about any arrests.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah accused Khan of seeking to create a civil war-like situation. The minister confirmed a policeman was killed in one of the raids, when a Khan supporter opened fire on policemen who had entered his house in the city of Lahore.

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A supporter of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, waves flags beside containers in Islamabad. AFP

Authorities stepped up security in the capital, Islamabad, deploying additional officers and paramilitary Rangers. Large shipping containers were placed on a key road leading to the parliament building, to prevent Khan’s supporters from getting close and possibly staging a sit-in there.

Earlier this week Khan had urged his supporters to gather in Islamabad on Wednesday for a demonstration that he said would continue until the government announced a date for snap elections.

Khan, who served as prime minister for over three and half years, was ousted by a no-confidence vote in parliament in April. He was replaced as prime minister by Shahbaz Sharif.

Khan claims his removal was the result of a US-organized plot. Washington denies any role in Pakistan’s internal politics.

 There were reports of late-night police action at the homes of former federal minister Hammad Azhar in Lahore, while the Lal Haveli residence of Sheikh Rashid Ahmed as well as the homes of Fayyazul Hasan Chohan and Ijaz Khan Jazi in Rawalpindi were also raided.

In addition, former information minister Fawad Chaudhry also claimed in a tweet that his home in Islamabad was under observation, which was why he had left for Jhelum.

 

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