A female journalist was crushed to death by a vehicle carrying former prime minister Imran Khan in an accident in eastern Pakistan on Sunday as he led a convoy along with his supporters towards the capital, party officials and journalists said.
Sadaf Naeem, a reporter for Channel 5 News, was killed after she lost her balance while trying to climb onto Khan's truck to get a sound bite from the former premier, according to Journalist Qazzafi Butt, who witnessed the incident.
The wheel of the truck ran over her head as she fell on the road, he said. PTI leader Mussarat Jamshed Cheema confirmed that Naeem was run over by Khan's vehicle. Local police officials did not respond to Reuters' request for comment.
Video Footage Shows Naeem Running Towards the Vehicle
Video footage circulating on social media shows Naeem running towards Khan's container in the seconds leading up to her death.
Imran Khan Halts March, Expresses Condolences
The incident prompted Khan to halt the "long march" that he is leading towards Islamabad to pressure the federal government into calling snap elections. His convoy started from the eastern city of Lahore, and is expected to reach Islamabad on Friday.
"Shocked & deeply saddened by the terrible accident that led to the death of Channel 5 reporter Sadaf Naeem during our March today," Khan said on Twitter. Khan said Sunday's activities planned by his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), had been cancelled.
The incident occurred as Khan's convoy was near the city of Gujranwala, 220 km (136 miles) from Islamabad. He had planned to hold political gatherings in cities along the route to Islamabad to build support.
Since being ousted in April through a parliamentary vote, Khan has held rallies across Pakistan, stirring opposition against a government that is struggling to bring the economy out of the crisis that Khan's administration left it in.
Prime minister Shehbaz Sharif, while reacting to the death of the journalist, said that he was deeply saddened by the news.
"Deeply saddened by the death of reporter Sadaf Naeem after falling from a long march container. Cannot feel sad enough over this tragic incident. Heartfelt condolences to the family. Sadaf Naeem was a dynamic and hardworking reporter. We pray for patience for the family of the deceased," he tweeted.