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Three officers fired for failing to stop violent attacks

ISLAMABAD (AP) – Pakistan’s military said on Monday that it has fired three senior army officers over their failure to prevent violent attacks on public property and military installations by supporters of the country’s former prime minister.

The attacks last month came after former premier Imran Khan was arrested in a graft case.

Major General Ahmad Sharif said a top general was among those fired, and action had been taken against another 15 army officers over their “unintentional negligence” in the matter.

The military did not disclose the names of the officers who were fired or disciplined, but it said some family members of retired army officers were also facing investigation.

At a televised news conference, Sharif said the military was also trying 102 civilians over their involvement in the May 9 attacks, during which the residence of a top regional commander was destroyed in Lahore.

The latest development comes weeks after thousands of demonstrations from Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party attacked the military’s headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, stormed an air base in Mianwali in the eastern Punjab province and torched a building housing state-run Radio Pakistan in the northwest. The demonstrators were angered over Khan’s arrest after he was dragged from a courthouse in the capital, Islamabad, in connection with a graf case. The violence subsided only after Khan was released on an order from Pakistan’s Supreme Court.

Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan leaves after appearing in a court in Lahore, Pakistan on Monday. PHOTO: AP

At least 10 people were killed in clashes between Khan’s supporters and police and since then, and police have arrested more than 5,000 people in connection with the riots. Most have been freed on bail pending trial.

Khan was ousted in a no-confidence vote last year by Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif. The former cricket star has denounced what he said are more than 100 cases against him. He said he is being politically victimised by Sharif, a charge the government denies.

In recent weeks, Khan has denounced the violence, saying he never incited his supporters. Authorities said that, so far, no decision had been made to send Khan’s case to the military court. A joint investigation team was conducting a probe into what role, if any, Khan may have had in the violence.

Despite strong opposition from domestic and international rights groups, the government is pressing ahead with the plan to try civilians involved in the attacks on military installations in military courts. The military and the Governemnt have said anyone facing such trials will get attorneys of their choice.

Khan is living in his home city of Lahore after he won protection from arrest in multiple cases, pending trial. On Monday, he appeared before a court that granted him protection from arrest until July 6, on charges of inciting people to violence.

The military spokesman, Sharif, said the military exercised restraint last month when rioters attacked their installations. He said the attack was designed to draw a violent response from the army.

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