Twenty killed as anti-Prophet Muhammad film protests in Pakistan turn deadly

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3 Nov 2010
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ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: Nearly 20 people were killed and hundreds injured today when thousands of angry demonstrators during government-sanctioned protests over an anti-Islam film turned violent in several cities across Pakistan on a day being observed as 'Love the Prophet Day'.

The worst affected was Pakistan's financial hub Karachi, where 14 people were killed including two policemen who were shot dead. Around 110 others injured when anti-film rallies turned violent and anarchy prevailed for many hours in some parts of the coastal city.

Officials said nearly 200 people were injured in Islamabad, Karachi and Peshawar before the protests tapered off at nightfall.

Rampaging mobs destroyed private and government property worth crores of rupees across the country. Protestors vandalized and torched three cinema halls and the chamber of commerce in Peshawar in the northwest.

Five persons, including an employee of a TV news channel, were killed in violence in Peshawar city, officials said.

ARY News said its employee Mohammad Amir died after being hit by a bullet in police firing. Others were killed in police firing or clashes between protestors and police.

Footage on television showed several armed protestors firing during demonstrations.

In Karachi, mobs torched three cinema halls, three government offices, three banks and several police vans near the Chief Minister's residence.

At many places, crowds of protestors looted shops and private buildings. A toll plaza and several vehicles were burnt by protestors on the outskirts of Rawalpindi.

Protestors also vandalized a CNG pump, blocked roads by burning tyres and lobbed stones at passing cars.

Hundreds of protestors gathered near the gates of the US Consulate in Lahore before they were driven back by security forces at 7.30pm.

Paramilitary Pakistan Rangers personnel were deployed after a police post was torched near the mission.

Lahore Police spokesman Niyab Haider said 11 people, mostly policemen, were injured in the clashes.

Thousands of students and members of hardline groups tried to get past police barriers in Islamabad and march to the diplomatic enclave, home to the embassies of the US and most Western countries.

Police used rubber bullets and teargas to push back demonstrators, who continued making efforts to enter the diplomatic enclave till darkness fell.

Army troops were deployed inside the enclave following a violent protest yesterday.

The Jamaat-ud-Dawah spearheaded a large rally on the Mall Road in Lahore after Friday prayers. JuD workers removed barricades while trying to march towards the US Consulate.

A charged JuD activist climbed an electric pole and jumped off while shouting "Allah-o-Akbar".

He was taken to the Mayo Hospital, where officials described his condition as critical.

Though protests began at some places in the morning, the number of demonstrators in all cities swelled after the weekly Friday prayers concluded at 2pm.

Earlier, life across Pakistan came to a standstill in the morning due to a holiday declared by the government to protest the anti-Islam film.

The government is observing the day as "Youm-e-Ishq-e- Rasool" (Love the Prophet Day).

Addressing a 'Love the Prophet conference' at the heavily fortified Prime Minister's Secretariat, Prime Minister Ashraf called on the people to protest peacefully without causing harm to life or property.

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