Pakistani police fired tear gas into the grounds of Imran Khan’s Lahore home on Wednesday following a night of violent clashes between security personnel and the former prime minister’s supporters as attempts by authorities to arrest him stretched into a second day, APA reports citing CNN.
A total of 69 people have been injured in the violence in the eastern city so far, including 34 police officers, a Pakistani police official told CNN on the condition of anonymity, adding that people inside Khan’s residence were armed with guns.
The clashes erupted Tuesday after police arrived at the property to arrest Khan for failing to appear in court on corruption charges.
Footage shared by Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and local media showed police firing tear gas and water cannons at Khan’s supporters on Tuesday in an effort to disperse them. The former prime minister’s supporters threw stones in return, according to a tweet from Islamabad police.
Protests also broke out in major cities across Pakistan on Tuesday in support of Khan, who released a video on social media asking his followers to “come out” in support of his movement if he is detained.
Khan, who was ousted in a parliamentary no-confidence vote last April, has since led a popular campaign against the current government, accusing it of colluding with the military to remove him from office. He has accused Pakistani authorities of attempting to arrest him to remove him from upcoming by-elections in April and a general election scheduled for October.
“[The government], they’re petrified that if I come into power, I will hold them accountable,” Khan told CNN on Tuesday. “They also know that even if I go to jail, we will swing the elections no matter what they do.”
The former leader says the charges against him are politically motivated and has warned that attempts to arrest him could lead to a dangerous escalation in political violence in the country. He also believes that Pakistan’s ruling coalition might eventually use a “pretext of violence” to delay the upcoming votes.
In a statement to CNN, Pakistan’s information minister denied any political involvement in the case.