Police in Pakistan stormed former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s residence in the eastern city of Lahore on Saturday and arrested 30 people amid tear gas shelling after someone opened fire from the roof of the building, officials said.
Senior police officer Suhail Sukhera, who led the operation in an upscale Lahore neighbourhood, said police moved to remove a barricade erected by members of Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party and his defiant supporters. He said they blocked the lanes around Khan’s residence with concrete blocks, felled trees, tents and a parked truck.
Khan was not in the home, having traveled to Islamabad to appear before a judge to face charges he sold state gifts while in office and hid his assets. The judge postponed that hearing until an unspecified future date.
Sukhera said baton-wielding Khan supporters attempted to resist police by throwing stones and Molotov cocktails and a man on the roof of Khan’s residence opened fire, No one was hurt.
Sukhera said police broke open the main door of Khan’s residence and found masks, petrol-filled bottles, iron rods and batons used in attacks on police during the week. Sukhera said that inside the sprawling residence, illegal structures were erected to shelter those who have been involved in attacks on police that have injured dozens of officers.
Witnesses said police attempted to disperse Khan supporters by firing tear gas and chased them to several homes in the Zaman Park neighbourhood. Khan was expected to appear in an Islamabad court on Saturday after a top court Friday suspended his arrest warrant, giving him a reprieve to travel to Islamabad and face charges in a graft case without being detained.
Ex-Pakistan PM Imran Khan says 2 gunmen tried to kill him; supporters stage protests after shooting
Khan had been holed up at his home in Lahore since Tuesday, after failing to appear at an earlier hearing in the case. His supporters hurled stones and clashed with baton-wielding police for two days to protect the former premier from arrest.
Khan’s motorcade arrived near the federal judicial complex in Islamabad, where his supporters also clashed with police who were preventing them from entering the complex. The enraged Khan supporters threw rocks at police and in reply police lobbed tear gas canisters to disperse them.
Khan’s attorney, Babar Awan, filed an application for Khan’s exemption from appearance in court amid special circumstances.
Khan, during his road trip to Islamabad, said in a video message that police had broken into his residence in Lahore while his wife was alone at the home. He condemned the action and demanded that those responsible be punished.
Khan, now the opposition leader, was ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament last April. He is accused of selling state gifts while in office and concealing assets, charges he denies. It’s one in a string of cases that the former cricket star turned Islamist politician has been facing since his ouster.
The 70-year-old has also claimed that his removal from power was part of a conspiracy by his successor, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, and the United States. Both Washington and Sharif’s government have denied the allegations.
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