Protests in Pakistan after police kills family in ‘encounter’, PM Khan promises ‘swift action’https://indianexpress.com/article/pakistan/pakistan-encounter-protests-sahiwal-imran-khan-5547060/

Protests in Pakistan after police kills family in ‘encounter’, PM Khan promises ‘swift action’

According to CTD, those killed were "terrorists" belonging to terror outfit Daesh. Also present in the car were the couple's three other children. While the minor son sustained a bullet injury, the two daughters are reported to be safe.

Protests in Pakistan as family killed in police 'encounter', PM Khan promises 'swift action'
Relative and local residents burn tires and block the main road to protest against the killing of a family by counter-terrorism officers, in Lahore, Pakistan (AP)

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Sunday promised “swift” action after a couple and their teenage daughter were killed in an alleged encounter between Punjab Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) and suspected “terrorists” near Sahiwal.

Three members of a family (husband, wife and their teenage daughter) and their friend were travelling in a car when the alleged encounter — which the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) officials later termed an ‘intelligence-based operation’ — took place on a highway in Sahiwal, about 200 kms from Lahore, on Saturday. Also present in the car were the couple’s three other children. While the minor son sustained a bullet injury, the two daughters are reported to be safe.

According to CTD, those killed were “terrorists” belonging to terror outfit Daesh. It also identified one of them as Zeeshan Javed, who was an active member of the outfit.

Govt’s priority is protection of all its citizens: Imran Khan

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Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said that while the CTD has done a “great job in the fight against terrorism, everyone must be accountable before the law.” “Still shocked at seeing the traumatized children who saw their parents shot before their eyes. Any parent would be shocked as they would think of their own children in such a traumatic situation. These children will now be fully looked after by the state as its responsibility,” he wrote on Twitter. He also said that “swift action” will be taken once the joint investigation team report comes in.

While the CTD claimed that when security officials signalled the car to stop near a toll plaza, they did not pull over and instead opened fire. “Once the firing stopped, four people were found dead, reportedly as a result of firing by their own accomplices, while three terrorists had fled the scene,” the CTD said in a statement, according to local media.

Protests in Pakistan as family killed in police 'encounter', PM Khan promises 'swift action'
Relatives and neighbours gather outside a house of a family killed by counter-terrorism officers, following the news of family’s death, in Lahore, Pakistan (AP)

However, The Dawn quotes eyewitnesses who say that the four were killed in “cold blood by the police.” They also claimed that no weapon was recovered from the vehicle after the alleged shootout. According to the eyewitnesses, the CTD also fled the scene after the shootout, leaving the three wounded children behind. It was only after some time that they returned and shifted them to a local hospital nearby.

Protests in Pakistan

According to the kin of those killed, the family was on their way to attend a wedding when they were intercepted by the police. They also held a protest with the bodies of the victims in Lahore. Protesters also blocked traffic, demanding an enquiry into the incident.

Taking note of the issue, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar ordered the arrest of the CTD officials involved in the shootout, the Express Tribune reported. Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the actual picture of the incident will become clear after a thorough investigation into the incident. “Apparently it seems that the terrorists used ‘human shield’ to protect themselves,” he said.