Pakistan calls in army as Islamabad protests turn violent

  • Pakistan calls in army as Islamabad protests turn violent

Pakistan calls in army as Islamabad protests turn violent

The police action and reaction from protesters, who had camped out at the venue for the last 20 days, sent scores of injured police and protesters to hospitals with injuries caused by stoning and respiratory problems from tear gas.

Latest reports from Pakistan said that at least 110 people, including 30 policemen and 14 FC personnel, have been injured in Islamabad operation.

The clashes broke out when 4000 officers launched an operation to disperse at least 1000 hardline activists blocking main highways leading to the capital Islamabad.

Pakistan's interior minister Ahsan Iqbal claimed that the protestors had "contacted India", and the government was investigating "why they did it", without giving further details about his claim.

By midday, the demonstrators appeared to have beaten back the police to roadblocks located several kilometres away from the site of the protest. "We will fight until the end", he said.

"We will avoid any human casualty", he said. Government officials were not immediately available for comment on the situation.

Liaquat Kazmi, 30, was standing outside his home near the Faizabad interchange, where the protest is centred, when he was manhandled and beaten by police as the crackdown got under way.

Senior police officer Ismatullah Junejo said police were swiftly clearing the venue as some 300 protesters ignored the final warning to disperse.

Safoor Akram, 23, a police constable from the nearby town of Rawat, was among those tasked with being the first wave in the clearing operation against the protesters. The sentiment was "commendable", judges Mushir Alam and Qazi Faez Isa wrote in another order released to the public, "but it does not follow that protesters can only be removed by firing upon them".

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) ordered the suspension of TV news channels' broadcast, stating that live coverage of a security operation was a violation of media regulations.

By nightfall, small protests had spread to other cities, with gatherings and limited clashes reported from Pakistan's largest city, Karachi, as well as in Lahore, Gujranwala and Faisalabad.

In Lahore, protesters gathered in more than 30 locations, said Kiran Nazish, a local journalist.

The smell of tear gas hung heavy in the air, hours after the last shell had been fired from the day's onslaught. Some protesters could be seen throwing stones at police.

The crackdown came after the country's top court ordered their removal, after protests paralyzed life in the twin cities and the last of a long series of deadlines lapsed without response from the agitating parties.