Pakistani interior minister shot in failed suicide attempt

Pakistani interior minister is shot and injured after being ambushed by a gunman as he prepared to leave a meeting

  • Ahsan Iqbal in his arm as he prepared to leave public meeting in Punjab province
  • Local police name suspect only as ‘Abid’ and reveal the shooter is in his mid 20s
  • He’s undergoing surgery at hospital in Lahore but injuries aren’t life threatening

Pakistan’s interior minister Ahsan Iqbal has been shot in a suspected assassination attempt ahead of nationwide elections due this year.

Mr Iqbal was shot at close range with a 30-bore pistol, hitting him in his right arm as he was preparing to leave a public meeting in Punjab province, senior police official Raja Riffat Mukhtar said.

The suspect, believed to be in his 20s, is known as ‘Abid’ according to Police. 

Pakistani Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal (pictured) had been attending the meeting in his constituency in Punjab’s Narowal district when he was ambushed by a gunman

‘The attacker was about to fire a second shot when police and people in the meeting overpowered him,’ said Malik Ahmed Khan, a spokesman for the Punjab government

Mr Iqbal is undergoing surgery at a hospital in Lahore but his injuries aren’t life threatening.

Mr Iqbal’s aide said the interior minister ‘was targeted’ and confirmed that the attacker had been arrested.  

Video footage of his arrival released by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) showed him being lifted from a helicopter on a stretcher, his eyes open as he responded to questions.

The shooting in Iqbal’s constituency of Narowal district drew swift international condemnation, and comes as Pakistan gears up for its second ever democratic transition, with federal polls widely expected this summer.

The wounded minister was rushed to hospital for treatment in Lahore after the attack

It follows a series of blows to the PML-N, which has been struggling to find its footing since its eponymous leader Nawaz Sharif was ousted by the Supreme Court over graft allegations last summer.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, along with opposition leaders Imran Khan and Bilawal Bhutto and the powerful army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, have all condemned the attack.

PML-N lawmaker Maiza Hameed told Pakistan’s Geo News that the shooting was an attempt to ‘weaken democracy’ ahead of the upcoming elections.

‘Strongly condemn the assassination attempt on my friend Ahsan Iqbal… Just spoke to him & he is in high spirits,’ tweeted Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, brother to Nawaz.

‘Those who indulged in this heinous act will be brought to justice,’ he continued. ‘PMLN will not be browbeaten into submission… Prayers for quick recovery!!’

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