A U.S. consular employee shot and killed two gunmen Thursday as they approached his vehicle on a congested street in Pakistan, police said. A pedestrian was also killed by a speeding American car trying to help, an officer said.
The U.S. State Department confirmed that an American employee was involved in the events in Lahore, but could not provide details.
Umar Saeed, a police officer, described the men as suspected robbers, but provided no evidence to back up the statement. He said the American, who was not identified, shot at the men in self-defense.
Aslam Tareen, Lahore's police chief, said police were questioning the American, who might be charged with murder and illegally carrying a weapon: a Beretta pistol. The American shot both men after they pointed guns at him at an intersection, Tareen said.
"Diplomatic staff usually enjoy a certain type of immunity, but I am not sure about murder," he said.
Atif Meraj, another police officer, later said that officials had registered a murder case against the American and had registered another case against two other Americans accused of killing the pedestrian.
The gunmen had approached the American's vehicle on a motorbike, said Saeed, the police officer. The American managed to alert colleagues in a car behind him, who hit and killed a passer-by as they rushed to the scene, he said.
In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley declined to identify the employee, but said he remained in Pakistan, where an investigation was under way.
While the facts still were being determined, the events might add to anti-American rhetoric in the country.
A few dozen people protested outside the police station where the American was being held. They burnt tires, and one held up a sign saying "American dog."
Sections of the Pakistani media are prone to fanning right-wing conspiracy theories that frequently feature armed foreigners roaming the country at will, violating its sovereignty.