One killed and 12 hurt in gun attack on Khan rally


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The Independent Online

One person was killed and a dozen injured as two gunmen opened fire and threw hand grenades at a political rally led by Imran Khan. The cricketer-turned-politician had left the venue before the attack and was not hurt.

Yesterday's killings came soon after Mr Khan, the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, had concluded the rally at Swabi in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Police suggested that they, rather than the PTI or its followers, were the target of the unidentified attackers. Seven of the wounded were police officers.

Either way, the incident is another disconcerting reminder of the unceasing peril faced by many Pakistani politicians. The former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, and the Minorities Minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, have all been assassinated in recent years and many others have been attacked.

At yesterday's rally, the latest in a series of open-air events that Mr Khan, pictured, believes will help to drive his "tsunami for political change", the PTI leader promised to "shoot down unpopular American drones". According to a report on the Express Tribune website, he said: "We will help [the US] to get out of Afghanistan but we will not become a part of their war.

"The nation has decided it wants a change and no political party can defeat PTI's tsunami." Mr Khan, pictured left, said his party would defeat opponents, including the Pakistan People's Party, led by President Asif Ali Zardari, and Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N, and "bowl them all out on the first ball".

The former sportsman, shown by opinion polls to be the most popular politician in Pakistan, said that if his party were elected, it would secure greater investment for the country and reform the notoriously lax taxation laws to ensure that the wealthy contributed more.