A crowd of menImage source, EPA

Image caption,

Supporters of Mr Khan gathered outside court ahead of his arrival

By Samuel Horti in London and Caroline Davies in Islamabad

BBC News

Police in Islamabad have clashed with supporters of former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan as he arrived in the city to appear in court.

Police said Mr Khan's supporters threw stones and fired tear gas near the court complex.

Mr Khan is appearing in court to address charges that he sold state gifts while in office, which he denies.

As he travelled to the capital, police raided his home in Lahore and made arrests.

Earlier in the week Lahore police tried to arrest Mr Khan after he missed a court hearing, and officers clashed with supporters outside his home.

On Friday, the court granted Mr Khan protection against arrest on the assurance that he would appear in court on Saturday.

The ex-PM says the charges against him are politically motivated but says he is attending court "because I believe in the rule of law". The government says the charges against him have nothing to do with politics.

He said attempts to arrest him were unrelated to the court case and instead were "intended to take me away to prison so that I am unable to lead our election campaign".

He told Reuters that he had formed a committee to lead his party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), in the event of his arrest.

Media caption,

Watch: Chaotic scenes as Imran Khan leaves his home in Lahore for Islamabad court

About 4,000 security officials, including elite commandos and anti-terrorism squads, have been deployed in Islamabad, AFP reported.

Police blocked the highway into Islamabad with shipping containers and large trucks to stop Mr Khan's convoy as it approached the city.

Officers armed with sticks and tear gas cannisters let his vehicle through, but most of his supporters were turned away.

Speaking to the BBC when the convoy was stationary, Mr Khan said that the authorities were trying to put him in prison to keep him out of the general election race later this year. "I won't be able to campaign - that's the whole thing," he said.

Earlier this week he told the BBC: "Whether I am in jail or not they will not be able to stop my party winning."

In a sign of the deep divisions within Pakistani politics, the current Prime Minister Shebaz Sharif tweeted that Mr Khan's "antics of the last few days" had "laid bare his fascist and militant tendencies" and accused him of using supporters as "human shields".

Mr Khan was ousted as prime minister last April in a no-confidence vote but has kept up pressure on his successor Mr Sharif with demonstrations and speeches calling for elections due later this year to be held early.

He blames Mr Sharif for an assassination attempt at a rally in November in which he was wounded in the leg.

Mr Khan faces multiple court cases, including terrorism charges. He has cited a variety of reasons - including security concerns and injury from the assassination attempt in November - as reasons for not showing up to hearings.

Police in Lahore said they had arrested Khan supporters who had been involved in violence against police earlier in the week, including for throwing petrol bombs. The operation involved 1,000 security personnel, local media reported.

The Punjab police chief said some officers would remain outside Mr Khan's residence.

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