Police officers use water cannon to disperse the supporters of Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan during clashes, in Lahore, Pakistan, March 8, 2023. (PHOTO / AP)
LAHORE, Pakistan – Pakistani police lobbed tear gas shells and baton-charged supporters of former prime minister Imran Khan in clashes which injured several on both sides on Wednesday, a government minister and his party said.
The clashes erupted in the eastern city of Lahore ahead of a Khan's planned rally to kick-start his election campaign, but which the government then banned.
The former premier has been demanding snap polls since he was ousted in a parliament vote of confidence last year. His successor has rejected the demand and stated elections would be held as scheduled later this year.
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Khan was shot and wounded at one of his own political rallies last year.
Khan, who has been embroiled in several court cases since his ouster, is wanted in court on March 13 to defend charges that he unlawfully sold state gifts misusing his office from 2018 to 2022
Wednesday's rally was banned owing to a threat to the law and order situation as there were International Women's Day gatherings in the area, provincial information minister Amir Mir said, adding supporters attacked the police when they were ordered to disperse.
"In retaliation, police used water cannons, tear gas and batons to disperse them," Mir told Reuters. He said at least seven police officials were injured. Twelve workers of Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party were arrested, he added.
Khan's aide Shafqat Mahmood said several of the workers were injured in the clashes, which, he termed, "fascist tactics."
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Live TV footage showed the police using extensive teargas shelling on several spots around Khan's Lahore home, with a couple of the workers seen bleeding.
Khan, who has been embroiled in several court cases since his ouster, is wanted in court on March 13 to defend charges that he unlawfully sold state gifts misusing his office from 2018 to 2022.
His party called off the rally after the clashes.