Misinformation that Imran Khan was not shot viral on social media
Soch Fact Check spoke to SKMCH officials and visited the facility to see Imran Khan’s reports
Claim: Social media users speculate about the number of bullets that hit Imran Khan during the 3 November attack during his rally near Wazirabad. While some claim three or four bullets hit Khan, others allege that he faked his injuries and was not injured by any bullet.
Fact: Imran Khan did not fake his injuries. He was hit by at least a dozen bullet fragments, according to X-rays seen by Soch Fact Check. Top officials at the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre (SKMCH) stated that further ballistics forensics could conclude whether he was hit by one bullet or multiple.
On 3 November 2022, PTI chief Imran Khan sustained a bullet injury during an attack on his Wazirabad rally. At least 15 people — including Senator Faisal Javed Khan, Ahmad Nasir Chattha, and Mir Omer Farooq Meyer — were injured during the shooting.
In the aftermath, social media was abuzz with misinformation and disinformation about the nature and extent of Khan’s injuries. Some social media users claimed that the former prime minister received either one, two, three or four bullets.
Others asserted that he faked his injuries and was not wounded at all.
Fact or Fiction?
On Tuesday, 8 November 2022, Soch Fact Check spoke with SKMCH officials, as well as members of the team that monitored Khan’s treatment. X-rays and medical reports — which were viewed by Soch Fact Check — show that two bullet fragments were found above Khan’s right knee, and at least three below the knee.
To seek further clarification, Soch Fact Check also met with SKMCH management, as well as some members of the medical team that treated Khan, on 14 November 2022 and viewed X-Ray reports, CT scan recordings, and pre- and post-operative surgery notes taken by relevant staff members.
According to these interviews, X-rays and medical reports, Khan was brought to the Shaukat Khanum facility at 5:50 pm on 3 November 2022 after he was shot. His X-Ray reports were made at 6:09 pm, and his CT scan was timed at 6:30 pm. His surgery began at 8:15 pm and ended at 9:27 pm. He was discharged on 6 November with a cast around his leg which included two circular holes to expose the wounds for adequate post-op care.
The management team at SKMCH confirmed that a total of 13 different metallic fragments were found in both of Khan’s legs. Eight of these fragments in his left leg were too small and insignificant to be operated on. At least four fragments — two in his thigh and two near his knee — were found in his right leg and were consequently removed during surgery. The largest of these fragments, which chipped his tibia bone, was 1.8 x 1.1 cm.
Whereas some news outlets claimed that Khan’s injuries may not be bullets or bullet fragments, the SKMCH team pointed to the charred edges on his wounds as evidence that he was indeed hit by bullets.
Despite misleading claims, the medical reports clearly state that no complete bullets were extracted from Khan’s legs; however, the severity of the wounds and the charred edges led the medical staff to conclude that these were bullet fragments. SKMCH management has refrained from commenting conclusively and outside anonymity on the ballistics analysis because the matter is currently under investigation.
However, while it cannot be determined how many bullets the fragments originated from, it is clear that the fragments came from bullets.
An excerpt from SKMCH’s statement says:
“Mr. Khan was then operated upon at 8:15 pm to remove bullet fragments from his thigh and leg. Two of the fragments were close to major blood vessels of the thigh; and one was adjacent to the right tibia, where it caused a fracture. A total of 4 bullet fragments were removed from Mr. Khan’s right leg. Fragments in the left lower leg were not removed as they did not pose any risk of further harm.”
— Shaukat Khanum (@SKMCH) November 5, 2022
From the evidence presented to Soch Fact Check by the SKMCH management and members of the medical team who worked on Imran Khan, it is clear that he was indeed hit by bullet fragments. Therefore, claims that he faked his injuries are false.
The number of bullets that hit Khan cannot be confirmed until the anticipated forensic ballistic investigation is conducted by the Punjab government.
Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis for the 13-day period since 3 November to 15 November using the following search terms:
- “عمران خان کو گولی نہیں لگی [Imran Khan was not shot]”
- “عمران خان کے گھٹنے کے نیچے ایک معمولی زخم گولی کا نہیں تھا [A minor wound below Imran Khan’s knee was not from a bullet]”
Some politicians expressed doubt about Khan’s injuries. Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said it was not clear whether “a single shot was fired at Imran or more” and whether the injury was “on one leg or on both”.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah challenged the PTI chief, saying he would quit politics forever if Khan proves four bullet injuries.
An analysis was also conducted for the following search terms:
- “Khan after receiving 4 bullets on his legs”
- “Khan 4 bullets legs”
- “imran khan bullets legs”
- “imran khan 1 bullet legs”
- “imran khan 2 bullets legs”
- “imran khan 3 bullets legs”
The fourth search term received 1,450 interactions across 11 posts. The fifth search term received 3,991 interactions across 33 posts. The sixth search term received 432 interactions across two posts.
The seventh search term received one interaction across two posts. The eighth search term received 712 interactions across eight posts.
Imran Khan’s statements about injury
Khan, himself, made a number of differing statements regarding his wounds, which may have caused some to doubt the veracity of news around the attack. At a press conference at the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital on 4 November 2022, he said, “These injuries are caused by four bullets that hit me,” he said.
On 7 November 2022, he told CNN’s Becky Anderson that the doctors “took out three bullets from my right leg. The left had some shrapnel which they’ve left inside.”
Imran Khan told Piers Morgan Uncensored on 10 November 2022: “I had three bullets taken out from my right leg and some shrapnel from my left leg. So, one of the bullets fractured my shin bone. That would take a bit of time, but I am recovering.”
Further, in an interview with DW News’ Melissa Chan, he said: “ I am healing. I have two bullet wounds in my [right] thigh and one in my shin bone. All three had been removed. And now my bones cracks so it needs four to six weeks rest. I can’t put weight on it until it recovers. The bullets from my thigh have been taken out and they are flesh wounds.”
Conclusion: Imran Khan was indeed hit by bullet fragments as the evidence presented to us by SKMCH medical team and management suggests. The number of bullets he was hit by cannot be confirmed until the anticipated forensic ballistics investigation is concluded.