Dead, 150 Injured After Violent Clashes Between Forces And Islamist Protesters

Geneva Matthews
November 26, 2017

Protesters shout anti-government slogans during a sit-in protest at an entrance of Islamabad, Pakistan, Friday, Nov. 24, 2017.

The Pakistani government has called on the army to restore order in Islamabad and disperse anti-blasphemy protesters who have been demonstrating in the capital for the past fortnight.

Earlier, the Islamabad police, with the help of Frontier Constabulary personnel and other law enforcement agencies, launched an operation against protesters after the last of a long series of deadlines lapsed on Saturday morning without response from the agitators.

A senior government official speaking on condition of anonymity, due to restrictions on speaking to the media, told Anadolu Agency that the security forces had been asked not to take on the violent protesters pending further orders. "Suggested to handle Islamabad Dharna peacefully avoiding violence from both sides as it is not in national interest and cohesion", Major General Asif Ghafoor, the director general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said in a tweet referring to the conversation between General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

At least 139 injured people have been taken to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in Islamabad, a spokesperson from the hospital said, adding that 93 of them were members of the security forces.

Dawn and Geo News reported that there are prison vans, ambulances at the site.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulating Authority (PEMRA) has issued coverage notice for electronic media and all satellite TV channels, the reports said.

The security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets as the protesters continued to block the roads to Islamabad.

Several men protesting the Faizabad crackdown also attempted to break into the house of former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar in Rawalpindi.

Leaders of a protest being staged by a religious group in Islamabad on Saturday presented a new set of demands to end their three-week agitation in the federal capital and other parts of the country. The demonstrators are demanding the resignation of a law minister over an omitted reference to the Prophet Muhammad in a parliamentary bill. The government has apologized and denied making such a change, calling it a clerical mistake.

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