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Shots fired at two PTI events in 18 hours

Updated July 22, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: Violence broke out at two Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) campaign events in the capital in a space of 18 hours.

Shots were fired at a corner meeting for PTI’s NA-54 candidate Asad Umer in Adnan Market, Street 64, G-11/2, late Friday night, police said, after PML-N workers and supporters disrupted an ongoing meeting with over 250 people in attendance.

The police attempted to intercept all nine PML-N vehicles, but five managed to break through the police’s rings of security. The disruption occurred at the same time that Mr Umer was giving a speech, and political workers from both parties began shouting slogans at each other. Although the situation was tense, it was shortly controlled by notables of the area.

Police have not yet determined if either attack was targeting an individual or meant to sow panic

Police said a shot was then fired from the left of the stage, after which Mr Umer left the meeting. Shortly after, at least four shots were fired on the street adjacent to the venue for the meeting.

A case was registered with the Ramna police against unidentified individuals, under PPC sections 337(h), 188, 148 and 149.

A PTI rally was also attacked in G-9 on Saturday evening, as it reached a street in G-9/2 for a corner meeting led by Zulfi Bukhari, police said.

Unidentified individuals fired three shots soon after the rally reached its destination, they said, and the individual or individuals responsible for firing were standing at the edge of street. By the time the police and party workers reached, they only found bullet shells, they said.

No one was hurt in either incident, and it has not yet been established if either incident was targeting a political figure or if people were firing in the air to spread fear among the audience.

On Wednesday night, political workers and supporters attacked a police official in G-10, police and administration officials said, after a resident of the area called Rescue 15 to complain about PTI and Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) supporters’ election camps on Sawan Road and their use of loudspeakers.

A patrolling team was sent to the area in response to the complaint, due to a ban on loudspeakers and amplifiers in the capital. They found election and party music playing on loudspeakers and asked the workers to stop.

Although the PTI camp complied, they said, those present at the MMA camp began arguing with the officials.

An assistant sub-inspector (ASI) informed Ramna police of the situation, officials said, and Ramna Station House Officer (SHO) Inspector Asjad Mehmood arrived to find the ASI surrounded by MMA workers and supporters.

Officials said they abused and tried to physically assault the ASI, who fired into the air to deter them. However, the political workers then blocked the road, and MMA candidate Mian Aslam also reached the area and the SHO called in senior police and capital administration officials.

On Thursday, MMA supporters and workers attached officials who were removing banners that had violated the elections code of conduct, they said. The capital administration and police have reported the matter to the Election Commission of Pakistan for necessary action.

Published in Dawn, July 22nd, 2018