Death toll in Pakistan protests climbs
Islamabad, May 10 (EFE).- The death toll from violent disturbances in Pakistan following the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan increased to eight Wednesday following clashes between police and protesters in the northwestern city of Peshawar.
Supporters of Khan set fire to the Radio Pakistan offices in the city, which is capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
“Three bodies and 84 injured people were received today at Lady Reading Hospital, where an injured person died as a consequence of his injuries,” hospital spokesman Asim Khan told EFE.
All four of the dead were shot, he said.
A police official in Peshawar, Azeem Khan, told EFE that more than 13 officers were wounded in confrontations with demonstrators.
Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (Pakistan Movement for Justice), the largest party in the South Asian nation of more than 231 million people, said Tuesday that four people died in the protests sparked by the former prime minister’s arrest.
The government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has offered no official account of casualties, but the PTI contends that more than 50 people have been killed and some 120 others injured.
The PTI also said that thousands of its workers and supporters were arrested in overnight raids.
Early Wednesday, a court ordered Khan held eight days for questioning on corruption allegations. His defense lawyers said the former prime minister appeared before a judge at a makeshift court inside a police complex.
The unrest has been most intense in Khan’s native Punjab, Pakistan’s most-populous province, and the regional administration has requested help from the army.
The provincial government said it would work out with the defense headquarters the “exact numbers of troops, assets, date and area” for the army deployment in Punjab.
Police in the province have detained some 1,000 individuals for their alleged involvement in violence, vandalism, and attacks on government buildings.
A police spokesperson said 130 officers suffered injuries in street clashes with Khan’s supporters on Tuesday.
Some 25 police vehicles and 14 government buildings were set ablaze during the demonstrations.
Mobile internet services have been suspended, and the right to assembly has been revoked in Islamabad and Punjab.
On Tuesday, some protesters broke into the army’s general headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi and likewise stormed regional military commands in Lahore and Peshawar.
The military responded Wednesday with a terse warning to protesters of “severe” reprisals in the event of further attacks on army installations.
Khan took office in 2018, promising an end to endemic corruption in the country and to create an Islamic welfare state as a response to Pakistan’s economic crisis.
But he lost power in a parliament trust vote in April 2022.
The 70-year-old cricketer-turned-politician accused the military of a role in his ouster and trying to assassinate him.