Police in Pakistan stormed former Prime Minister Imran Khan‘s residence in the eastern city of Lahore on Saturday, arresting 30 people and launching tear gas after someone opened fire from the roof of the building, officials said.
Police used bulldozers to smash down the main gates to the residence, according to news reports.
Senior police officer Suhail Sukhera, who is leading the operation in the upscale neighbourhood, said police moved to dismantle blockades erected by Mr Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party and defiant supporters.
He said that baton-wielding supporters of the former leader attempted to resist police by throwing stones and petrol bombs, but the officers were able to move forward until a man on the roof of Mr Khan’s residence opened fire. No one was hurt.
Mr Sukhera said that police broke open the main door of Mr Khan’s residence and found masks, petrol-filled bottles, iron rods and batons used in attacks on police during the week. Inside the sprawling residence, he said, illegal structures were erected to shelter those who have been involved in attacks that have injured dozens of police officers.
Witnesses said police attempted to disperse Khan supporters by firing tear gas and chased them to several homes in the wealthy neighbourhood of Zaman Park.
It comes as Mr Khan was expected to appear in court in Islamabad on Saturday after his arrest warrant was suspended, giving him a reprieve to travel to the capital and face charges in a graft case without being detained.
Mr Khan has been holed up at his Lahore home since Tuesday, after failing to appear at an earlier hearing in the case. His supporters hurled stones and clashed with baton-wielding police for two days to protect the former premier from arrest.
During his road trip to Islamabad, the former leader said in a video message that the government had planned his arrest despite his travel to a hearing. He said police had broken into his residence in Lahore while his wife was alone at the home. He condemned the action and demanded those responsible to be punished under law.
Mr Khan, now in the opposition, was ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament last April. He is accused of selling state gifts while in office and concealing assets. It’s one in a string of cases that the former cricket star turned Islamist politician has been facing since his ouster.
The 70-year-old opposition leader has also claimed that his removal from power was part of a conspiracy by his successor, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, and the United States. Both Washington and Sharif’s government have denied the allegations.