Six dead, 230 injured as protest creates havoc in Islamabad

Police stand in their staging area and watch demonstrators near the Faizabad junction in Islamabad

Police stand in their staging area and watch demonstrators near the Faizabad junction in Islamabad

Lahore: Pakistan's Punjab government on Sunday chose to close all educational institutions for two days due to worsening law and order situation in the province following widespread protests by hardline religious groups, reports PTI.

Thousands of security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets as the demonstrators blocked roads and burned police vehicles around the site of the sit-in, which has virtually paralysed the capital for the whole day.

A large number of religious parties also took out rallies and staged demonstrations in Umerkot, Mithi, Sujawal and other towns of lower Sindh to register their protest against the ongoing operation against the protesters in Islamabad.

The operation launched by the police of the two cities and personnel of the Frontier Constabulary ended in a disappointing failure amid violent clashes between law enforcers and protesters. Dr. Tariq Niazi of the Holy Family Hospital confirmed the death of a young man who was shot in the head during the violence at the intersection and the surrounding area. Numerous supporters are from ultra-conservative Tehreek-e-Labaik party, who accuse Law Minister Zahid Hamid of blasphemy.

The Islamist extremists have accused the country's law minister of blasphemy against Islam and demanded his dismissal and arrest after he omitted a reference to the Prophet Mohammed in a parliamentary bill. Many of those injured are security personnel.

The protesters were blocking a key highway to the capital.

Private television channels in Pakistan were taken off the air by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, according to a message slate that replaced the channels' programming.

A court had given the government until 18 November to clear the protests by any means necessary, but attempts at peaceful resolution had failed.

A demostrator detained by police gestures after being hit by a policeman as he is led to a police van near the Faizabad junction
A demostrator detained by police gestures after being hit by a policeman as he is led to a police van near the Faizabad junction

Despite the police action, the sit-in was continuing on Saturday evening. Some protesters could be seen throwing stones at police. Witnesses said a group of baton-carrying protesters snatched a tear gas gun and a few shells from a constable and lobbed them at police.

At least one person was killed and over 200 injured after police moved in to break "blasphemy" protests.

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The protesters, who before Saturday numbered some 2,000 people, are demanding that Pakistan's law minister Zahid Hamid resign over a hastily-abandoned amendment to the oath that election candidates must swear.

Five motorcycles and one auto belonging to the police personnel were set alight by the protesters, police said, adding that the vehicles were personal property.

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said the protests were part of a "conspiracy" to weaken the government, which is still run by the party of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif - removed by the supreme court in July over financial irregularities.

However officials are quoted in other reports confirming that several people were killed.

The Faizabad protest leaders in a statement later said they were severing all talks with the government until the funeral and burial of their dead.

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