Pakistan police clash with anti-blasphemy protesters

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Islamabad, Pakistan – Clashes between anti-blasphemy protesters and police maintain left a minimal of 174 folks injured in Pakistan’s capital, smartly being facility officers mentioned, as demonstrators beat wait on a government crackdown and persisted to block a fundamental motorway into the metropolis.

1000’s of rebellion police and paramilitary personnel on Saturday fired bolt gasoline, rubber bullets and water cannon on the protesters in an attempt and dislodge them from a fundamental intersection on the Islamabad expressway.

The protesters, numbering as many as 2,000, stood their ground, stopping wait on by throwing stones and beating police with sticks and metal rods in running battles that persisted in some unspecified time in the future of the day.

The protesters maintain been blockading the precious avenue into Islamabad since November Eight, anxious the resignation of FederalLaw Minister Zahid Hamid over a perceived softening of the converse’s location on blasphemy.

Splendid week, a Pakistani court ordered the federal government to decided the sit down-in notify, prompting a chain of conferences between notify leaders and the federal government to are attempting and reconcile variations.

By noon, the demonstrators regarded to maintain beaten wait on the police to roadblocks positioned several kilometres a ways from the positioning of the notify.

« We will stay deployed but are maintaining our positions for now, » Khalid Khattak, Islamabad’d police chief, suggested Al Jazeera. « We attain not must trigger further casualties [and] will adopt a recent technique rapidly. »

No longer lower than 111 of those injured in the clashes maintain been individuals of the police or other security forces, mentioned Dr Farrukh Kamal, an legitimate on the PIMS government smartly being facility where most of the wounded maintain been being treated.

Legitimate figures on how many protesters had been arrested throughout the crackdown maintain been not today accessible.

Caught in the crossfire

Liaquat Kazmi, 30, used to be standing outdoors his home diagram the Faizabad interchange, where the notify is centred, when he used to be manhandled and beaten by police as the crackdown received beneath diagram.

« I am factual a usual citizen, I haven’t any connection to the protesters or to the police, » he mentioned from his smartly being facility bed. “With out asking any questions as to who I was, [the police] brutally beat me, after which one of them shot me at cease vary with a rubber bullet. »

Kazmi suffered a important injure to the chest, but clinical doctors mentioned he would develop a plump restoration.

Safoor Akram, 23, a police constable from the nearby town of Rawat, used to be amongst those tasked with being the first wave in the clearing operation in opposition to the protesters.

« We maintain been surrounded by those maulvis [religious leaders]. First, they stole our mobiles and wallets, after which they beat us mercilessly with sticks and their fists, » he suggested Al Jazeera.

Liaquat Kazmi mentioned he used to be beaten by police whereas standing outdoors his home [Al Jazeera]

Akram and two other policemen maintain been then taken hostage and held by the protesters for five hours, he mentioned. They maintain been at remaining launched.

Because the crackdown received beneath diagram, Pakistan’s media regulator ordered all tv news channels rather then the converse broadcaster taken off air, saying their are residing protection used to be compromising the safety operation.

Rapidly thereafter, salvage admission to to social media web sites Twitter and Fb used to be also decrease all around the country.

Protesters digging in

By nightfall, tiny protests had unfold to other cities, with gatherings and runt clashes reported from Pakistan’s ideally succesful metropolis, Karachi, as smartly as in Lahore, Gujranwala and Faisalabad.

In Islamabad, the protesters regarded to maintain dug in for the night, with extra than 1,000 gathered spherical a makeshift stage, raising slogans of unity with Islam’s Prophet and vowing to not wait on down.

The scent of teargas hung heavy in the air, hours after the remaining shell had been fired from the day’s onslaught.

The avenue that has change into the protesters home over the remaining two weeks used to be strewn with stones and other detritus from the sooner fight. Amongst the crowd, many protesters stood armed with sticks and rods, policing the entry aspects of the demonstration.

Nearby, many others maintain been huddled spherical tiny fires in makeshift tents, as night drew in.

Agree to Asad Hashim on Twitter @AsadHashim

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