Pakistani police storm former Prime Minister Khan’s home and arrest 30 people
LAHORE, Islamabad — Pakistani police stormed former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s residence in the eastern Lahore on Saturday and arrested 30 people amid tear gas fire after someone opened fire from the roof of the building, officials said.
Senior Police Officer Suhail Sukhera, who led the operation in an upscale neighborhood of Lahore, said police decided 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 house, having traveled to Islamabad to appear before a judge to face charges, he sold state gifts while in office and hid his possessions. The judge postponed this hearing to an unspecified later date.
Sukhera said Khan supporters wielding batons tried to resist police by throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails and a man on the roof of Khan’s residence opened fire. No one was hurt.
Sukhera said police broke down the main door of Khan’s residence and found masks, bottles filled with gasoline, iron bars and batons used in attacks on police during the week. Sukhera said inside the sprawling residence, illegal structures were erected to house those involved in attacks on police that injured dozens of officers.
Witnesses said police tried to disperse Khan’s supporters by firing tear gas and chased them into several homes in the Zaman Park neighborhood. Khan was due to appear in a court in Islamabad on Saturday after a high court suspended his arrest warrant on Friday, granting him a reprieve to travel to Islamabad and face charges in a corruption case without being detained .
Khan had been locked up at his home in Lahore since Tuesday, after failing to appear at an earlier hearing in the case. His supporters threw rocks and clashed with baton-wielding police for two days to protect the former prime minister from arrest.
Khan’s motorcade arrived near the Federal Court Complex in Islamabad, where his supporters also clashed with police who were preventing them from entering the compound. Furious Khan supporters threw stones at the police and in response the police threw tear gas canisters to disperse them.
Khan’s lawyer, Babar Awan, filed a request to exempt Khan from appearing in court under special circumstances.
Khan, during his road trip to Islamabad, said in a video message that police broke into his residence in Lahore while his wife was home alone. He condemned the action and demanded that those responsible be punished.
Khan, now opposition leader, was ousted in a vote of no confidence in parliament last April. He is accused of selling state gifts while in office and concealing assets, charges he denies. It is one of many cases the former cricketer star turned Islamist politician has faced since his ousting.
The 70-year-old also claimed his removal from power was part of a plot by his successor, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, and the United States. Washington and Sharif’s government have denied the allegations.
Associated Press writer Zarar Khan in Islamabad contributed.