Attock/SWABI/Islamabad - Braving heavy teargas shelling by police and apparently insurmountable barriers, PTI protesters on the call of their leader Imran Khan managed yesternight to push through the main blockades near Swabi and Burhan interchanges.

Though they were still far away from the destination – country’s capital Islamabad, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak vowed to keep going with his convoy of thousands of supporters which earlier in the evening came under intense tear gas shelling on Haroonabad bridge in Swabi.

Later when the convoy of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf reached Burhan interchange, they were again briefly shelled with tear gas in the presence of Punjab Police Inspector General (IG) Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera, who was there to supervise police action.

Three-layer-deep barricades were placed along the Peshawar Motorway to deter the marchers. Several ambulances carrying patients and bodies of the dead were stranded on GT road.

It was the latest confrontation before a planned lockdown of the capital on Wednesday by the PTI, which is seeking Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation over his children’s offshore bank accounts.

Imran Khan lauded the efforts of Pervez Khattak and his companions who used cranes to remove the various obstacles and containers placed on the way as night fell.

Imran also requested the party supporters in Attock, Taxila, Hassanabdal and Tarnol to welcome the PTI caravan upon its arrival.

Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed, a close ally of Imran, in a tweet urged PTI chief to come out of his residence in Bani Gala, saying the workers were awaiting him.

Police and Frontier Constabulary personnel earlier used tear gas shells to try and disperse thousands of stick-wielding PTI workers when they tried to remove barricades put in place by police.

TV footage showed protesters fleeing from clouds of tear gas after leaving the cranes where they were. But they gathered again at the Haroonabad bridge, which is an hour and a half’s drive away from the capital.

Television footage showed walls of containers blocking Grand Trunk Road, and police and FC men standing at the ready armed with sticks and tear gas.

Two cranes were seen moving along with the protesters to help move containers blocking the way.

Some protesters also fainted due to the shelling, while others were injured by rubber bullets. Those affected were taken to hospitals.

The ministry of interior warned yesterday that Chief Minister Khattak will not be allowed to enter the federal capital if he comes with armed men.

CM Pervaiz Khattak speaking to a TV channel said, “If anything happens, if one of our people even sustains a scratch, we will go to court and the responsible party will be PM Nawaz Sharif and Punjab CM Shehbaz Sharif.”

Authorities in Punjab had also closed a motorway using shipping containers, as police and paramilitary forces stand guard around the highway.

Karachi-based PTI leaders Arif Alvi and Imran Ismail were released after a brief detention in Islamabad. They were arrested from outside the Imran Khan’s residence in Bani Gala. Their release came after Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar ordered police to immediately release them.

Television footage showed Capital City Police dragging MNA Alvi into a car as he tried to remove barriers to reach Imran’s residence in Islamabad.

At one point, he also fell to the ground, but police succeeded in pushing him into the hi-roof van.

The other leader, Imran Ismail on Twitter said he was “arrested brutally”. The PTI leader tweeted a selfie from inside the van in which the two were smiling.