25 killed, hundreds injured in violent protests
22 September, 2012
ISLAMABAD: Angry and violent protests plunged the country into chaos on Youm-e-Ishq-e-Rasool (PBUH) on Friday as at least 25 people were killed and hundreds injured in addition to widespread damage to private and public property in nationwide protests against a blasphemous, anti-Islam film.
Fuming protesters fought pitched battles with police and law enforcement agencies in Peshawar, Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and several other cities. Most of the protests were violent despite repeated calls to hold peaceful rallies by the government, political leaders and religious scholars.
At least 20 people, including three policemen, were killed and more than 130 injured as violent protests erupted in Karachi after Friday prayers.
The angry mobs also set ablaze four cinema houses on MA Jinnah Road, six banks, four police mobiles, two armoured personnel carriers, two restaurants and various automobiles in different areas of the city. Reports said that people continued looting the banks and other establishments for several hours. Three police mobiles, which were stationed outside Chief Minister's House in Red Zone, were also torched. Two fire brigades engines were also set ablaze.
Several rallies were taken out from different parts of the city. Thousands of people were part of the rallies, which headed towards the US consulate to lodge a protest against the blasphemous movie.
Demonstrations were held outside Memon Mosque in Boltan Market, Preedy Street, Banori Town and Golimar. Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan took out a rally from Regal Chowk; Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam from Banori Town; Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen from Nomaish Chowrangi and Jamaat-e-Islami from Masjid-e-Rizwan in Federal B Area.
The stone-pelting agitators smashed windowpanes of several vehicles and blocked Shahrah-e-Faisal for traffic by setting tyres on fire.
In Peshawar, five people, including an employee of a private TV channel, were killed as several hundred protesters set ablaze four cinemas and the city's chamber of commerce, and damaged plazas, shops and vehicles. The channel showed footage of his employee, Amir Liaquat, at the hospital as doctors tried to save him.
Around 70 people, including children, were reported injured during clashes with police The clashes erupted when police stopped the protesters from getting near the US consulate. The protesters also smashed windowpanes of private homes. A resident in cantonment area said that protesters were lobbing stones at everything they could, including homes.
Rescue 1122 said angry mobs also torched its snorkel while it was on way to put out fire at KP Chamer of Commerce and Industry. Clashes between police and stone-throwing protesters also occurred in Islamabad. Police fired tear gas as well as warning shots in an attempt to keep them from advancing toward US embassy. At least 55 people, including nine policemen, were injured in the unrest. Police clashed with over 10,000 demonstrators in several areas of the capital, including in front of a five-star hotel near the diplomatic enclave where the US embassy and other foreign missions are located.
A military helicopter buzzed overhead as the sound of tear gas being fired echoed across the city. Though the intensity of the protests began after Friday prayers but groups of people had started ransacking different establishments at the beginning of the day. Toll plaza near Railways Carriage factory in the city was also ransacked and set on fire.
In Lahore, demonstrators gathered on major roads, including Circular Road and The Mall, and burnt tyres, shouted anti-US slogans and demanded hanging of the film producer. Protest demonstrations were also held in Faisalabad, Multan, Bahawalpur, Chakwal, Jhelum, Hyderabad and many other cities.
Government also suspended mobile phone services in 15 cities to prevent any terrorist activity.