Thousands arrested in Pakistan after violent protests over ex-PM Khan’s arrest
Islamabad, 10 May (EFE).- Thousands of people have been detained after massive protests and violence erupted across Pakistan following the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, with at least four of his supporters killed.
“Thousands of our workers and supporters have been arrested in overnight raids including our Sindh president Ali Zaidi and many other senior leaders,” Shireen Mazari, a leader of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, told EFE.
“The police broke into the houses of our members who were elected members of the parliament including some women members,” the politician added.
Following Khan’s arrest on Tuesday, some protesters broke into the army’s general headquarters in Rawalpindi and the regional headquarters in Lahore and Peshawar.
The protesters left the buildings after storming them.
In some areas of Rawalpindi and Faisalabad, the police opened fire on the protesters.
Video clips showed enraged protesters beating police officers with sticks.
Women have also been seen clashing with the police after they stopped them on the roads.
At least four people died and dozens more were injured Tuesday in disturbances across Pakistan following the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, PTI spokespeople said.
Four of Khan’s supporters were killed in the cities of Quetta, Faisalabad, Chakdara, and Lahore, according to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (Pakistan Movement for Justice), the largest party in the South Asian nation of more than 231 million people.
Images of people lying on the ground bleeding have circulated during the course of the day, but authorities have offered no information on casualties.
Some of Tuesday’s most dramatic scenes unfolded in Rawalpindi, where dozens of protesters broke down the gates of the Pakistani armed forces General Headquarters.
The only previous occasion of such a breach was in 2009, during an attack by the Pakistani Taliban.
Khan supporters also attacked the residences of senior military officers in the cities of Lahore and Peshawar, destroying windows, doors, and furniture, as captured in videos shared on social media.
The government shut down Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube in much of the country, blocking both the internet and mobile data.
Authorities suspended the right of assembly in Islamabad and throughout Khan’s native province of Punjab.
Even so, as midnight approached, thousands of people remained on the streets of major cities demanding Khan’s release despite a ruling by the Islamabad High Court that the arrest was lawful.
Khan, who faces several corruption and terrorism charges filed after his ouster last year by parliament in a vote of no-confidence, was grabbed Tuesday morning by members of the Pakistan Rangers, a paramilitary law enforcement corps when he came to the court in Islamabad for a bail hearing.
Videos posted online showed agents in black uniforms dragging Khan and shoving him into a police vehicle.
Islamabad police said Khan was taken into custody in a graft case relating to alleged financial malpractices in setting up a multi-million dollar university trust in Punjab.