US official kills two Pakistanis in Lahore

Policeman beside the car of the attacked US consular worker Most of the windows of the official's car were broken

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An American official in the Pakistani city of Lahore has shot and killed a Pakistani motorcycle rider and his pillion passenger, police say.

They say that the consular employee fired his pistol in self-defence. US embassy officials confirmed that an American was involved.

The men were pursuing the American in his car when the incident happened.

A pedestrian was also killed by a speeding car from the US consulate which came to help, police say.

Bullet holes

They are investigating whether the two men on the motorcycle were robbers.

Onlookers surrounding the motor bike of a commuter who was killed Onlookers surrounded a motorbike after the shooting

Weapons were recovered from the bodies of the dead men.

Lahore police chief Aslam Tareen told the AP news agency that the American was being questioned by the police and might be charged with both murder and illegally carrying a weapon: a Beretta pistol.

"Diplomatic staff usually enjoy a certain type of immunity, but I am not sure about murder," he said. "We will consult the Foreign Office and legal advisers in this regard."

Local TV showed footage of what it said was the American official's car. It had several bullet holes in the windscreen.

The American had stopped at a traffic light when two men riding a motorcycle stopped near his car.

"The man told us he pulled out his pistol in self-defence," Mr Tarin said.

The American is now being held in custody.

Anti-American sentiment

In Washington, US state department spokesman PJ Crowley told reporters the man was a US citizen working for the consulate but did not confirm whether he had diplomatic status.

He also declined to answer whether the official was authorised to carry a firearm.

Mr Crowley said the US would co-operate with the Pakistani investigation that was under way.

Police say the American used a radio to call colleagues for help immediately after the shooting - and a second consular car turned up to rescue him.

Dozens of people gathered after the incident and stopped both drivers from fleeing the scene.

More than 100 people blocked the road after the incident by setting tyres on fire to protest against the killing.

The protest later moved to picket the police station where the car involved in the incident was impounded.

The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan in Pakistan says that the incident may add to anti-American sentiment in Pakistan.

Our correspondent says questions are certain to be asked as to why the American was carrying arms and why, if he was a diplomat, he was not provided with armed protection.

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