Imran Khan’s bodyguard hit by six bullets in Wazirabad attack as protesters clash with police

The bodyguard of Imran Khan suffered six bullet injuries in his arms and legs while the former Pakistan prime minister himself recovered from two gunshot wounds to his leg in an assassination attempt during a protest march in Wazirabad.

Omar Ayub Khan, additional general secretary of Mr Khan’s political outfit Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), shared a picture from his visit to a hospital where special security guard Zahid, identified by media only by his first name, was recovering from six bullet injuries to his limbs.

Mr Ayub Khan said it was a “miracle” that “none of the bullets hit any arteries or bones” and called Zahid “a brave and fearless soldier”.

Mr Khan’s supporters blocked major roads and clashed with the police who fired tear gas shells during nationwide protests after the assassination attempt on Mr Khan on Friday. Mr Khan was shot in the leg as he waved to crowds from a container mounted on a truck from where he was leading a protest march on the capital to press for early elections and calling for the resignation of PM Shehbaz Sharif.

Senior PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the party will stage a “peaceful protest” countrywide on Saturday. “The nation will not remain quiet in the wake of an armed attack on party chairman Imran Khan,” he said in a tweet.

Sharif led a coalition of parties that ousted Mr Khan from office through a parliamentary vote in April.

“I will give a call to march on Islamabad once I get better,” Mr Khan, a former international cricket star-turned-politician, said in a live address from a hospital in Lahore.

He said two shooters had tried to assassinate him, in a country with a history of politically motivated violence. He said one person was killed and 11 others were injured in the attack in Wazirabad, about 170 km (106 miles) southeast of Islamabad.

Punjab health minister Yasmeen Rashid, a doctor and member of PTI, told Reuters two bullets hit Mr Khan, wounding him in the shin and thigh.

Mr Khan accused Mr Sharif, interior minister Rana Sanaullah and intelligence official major-general Faisal Nasser of attempting the assassination without providing evidence for his claim.

The media wing of Pakistan’s military called the allegations “baseless and irresponsible”.

The attack has drawn globan condemnation, with US secretary of state Antony Blinken calling for calm, saying: “Violence has no place in politics, and we call on all parties to refrain from violence, harassment and intimidation”.

The Islamabad police, in the meantime, have registered cases against several “long march” participants, including PTI leaders, for allegedly attacking law enforcers and vandalising public property, the Dawn reported.

“Around 250-300 protesters led by PTI leaders Amir Mehmood Kayani, Ali Ahmed Awan, Wasif Qayyum, Chaudhry Shoaib and others were moving towards Faizabad on Friday evening and they provoked party activists to attack police and FC (Frontier Corps) personnel,” reported quoting the police complaint.

At least nine FC personnel and five police officers had been injured in the attack, the complaint stated. Mr Khan is in stable condition and will be discharged soon, according to Faisal Sultan, who is heading the team of doctors who treated him.

(With additional reporting by agencies)