Pakistani police shoot gunman after long standoff
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Police shot and wounded an armed motorist in Pakistan’s capital Thursday after an hours-long standoff broadcast live on TV, during which he demanded the implementation of Islamic law in the country.
The gunman, Mohammad Sikandar, was armed with a pair of assault rifles that he fired periodically and was accompanied by his wife and two children. He parked his car in the middle of one of Islamabad’s main roads leading to the parliament as police tried to figure out what to do.
Sikandar was shot after an altercation with a negotiator at the end of the nearly six-hour stand-off. He is alive but in critical condition, said Aisha Esani, a doctor at the hospital where he is being treated.
Islamabad police chief Sikandar Hayat said the gunman was from the town of Hafizabad in central Punjab province and appeared to have mental problems.
The incident started Thursday when traffic police stopped the man as he was his driving his vehicle the wrong way down a street in Islamabad, said police officer Ahmad Naeem. He crashed his car into a barrier, argued with police and fired shots in the air, said Naeem.
The commotion quickly attracted dozens of onlookers and reporters, and the police called for reinforcements. A senior police officer tried to negotiate with Sikandar and his wife at the beginning of the standoff but was unsuccessful.
Local TV broadcast the surreal scene live. Sikandar’s kids played in and around the car, as he sat in the vehicle smoking cigarettes. His wife milled around and spoke with police. They both gave interviews by phone to local TV stations.
“Kill me and throw my body in the sea like Osama’s,” Sikadar told Dunya News, in reference to slain al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden’s body was dumped into the sea after he was killed by U.S. commandos.
Sikandar demanded the government step down and new elections be held under Islamic law, said Hayat, the police chief.
A Pakistani Taliban commander claimed the man was a militant and had wanted to do to something to “astonish security forces.” He spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized by the group to discuss the matter.
Eventually, a former Pakistani lawmaker, Zamurd Khan, went out to speak to Sikandar. As he was introducing himself to Sikandar’s children, he lunged for the gunman to try to overpower him. Sikandar slipped away and fired a shot. He then held his guns above his head, as if to surrender, but seconds later started running.
Police shot him twice, and he fell face first onto the street as officers jumped on top of him. Some police fired into the air with joy that the episode was over. They carried a bloodied Sikandar away, and also took away his wife and children.
Associated Press writer Rasool Dawar contributed to this report from Peshawar, Pakistan.