Gunman injures Pakistan interior minister Ahsan Iqbal in Punjab

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Media captionAhsan Iqbal was taken to hospital after being shot at least once

A gunman has shot and injured Pakistani Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal while he was visiting his constituency in the north-eastern city of Narowal.

Mr Iqbal had just attended a rally in the Punjab city when he was hit at least once in the arm. He was taken to hospital and his life is not in danger.

The attacker was arrested and is being questioned, officials said. The motive for the shooting is not yet clear.

Pakistan is due to hold a general election on 15 July.

Mr Iqbal is a senior member of the governing Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz).

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EPA

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Ahsan Iqbal was airlifted to a hospital in Lahore

How did the shooting happen?

A senior government source told Reuters news agency that early information suggested Mr Iqbal had been returning from a meeting with a Christian group.

“We are not sure whether it has got anything to do with the motive,” the source said. “We will know only after investigation of the attacker.”

Mr Iqbal was shot in the right arm, Punjab government spokesman Malik Ahmed Khan told AFP news agency.

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Reuters

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Ahsan Iqbal (seen here last year) has reassured supporters from his hospital bed

“The attacker was about to fire a second shot when police and people in the meeting overpowered him,” he said.

Mr Iqbal was rushed to a local hospital for surgery and then transferred by helicopter to the Services Institute hospital in Lahore.

He later took to Twitter to reassure supporters and to ask for prayers.

What do we know about the attacker?

Pakistani media named the suspected gunman as 21-year-old Abid Hussain.

He is said to be affiliated to the hardline Islamist Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah party, Reuters news agency reported citing a police report.

The new ultra-religious party has been fiercely opposed to any weakening of Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws.

In a statement, party leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi condemned the attack on Mr Iqbal and said supporters were not authorised to take up arms, Reuters added.

What has the reaction been?

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi “strongly condemned” the attack and called for an immediate report into the incident by Punjab’s chief of police.

Opposition leader Syed Khursheed Shah said the incident “raised a major question mark on the security situation in the country” and said tighter security was needed for the upcoming elections.

The US ambassador to Pakistan, David Hale, said the US condemned the attack and wished Mr Iqbal a speedy recovery.



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