Friday, September 21, 2012

19 killed, 195 wounded during violent "Day of Love" protests in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (NewsLIVE) — Violent crowds furious over an anti-Islamic film made in the United States convulsed several cities across Pakistan on Friday in a day of state-sanctioned protests, and the nation's leading television station reported as many as 19 people were killed.

It was the worst single day of deadly violence in one Muslim country over the film, "Innocence of Muslims," since the protests began nearly two weeks ago in Egypt and later spread to two dozen countries around the world. Protesters have ignored the United States government's denunciation of the film.

The violence on Friday in Pakistan began with a television station employee dying from gunshot wounds during a protest in the northwestern city of Peshawar, and far bigger protests in the southern port of Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, left between 12 and 14 people dead, Pakistani news media reported. Geo, the leading television station, was reporting 19 deaths by late Friday around the country.
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - [T]ens of thousands of people joined protests encouraged by the government in several cities including Islamabad, Karachi, Peshawar, Lahore, Multan and Muzaffarabad.

The bloodiest unrest erupted in the southern city of Karachi, where three policemen and two protesters were killed and 112 people wounded, according to Allah Bachayo Memon, spokesman of the chief minister of Sindh province. He said about 20 vehicles, three banks and five cinemas were set on fire.

Crowds set two cinemas ablaze and ransacked shops in the northwestern city of Peshawar, clashing with riot police who fired tear gas. At least five protesters were hurt and the ARY television station said an employee had been killed.

Mohammed Tariq Khan, a protester in Islamabad, said: "Our demand is that whoever has blasphemed against our holy Prophet should be handed over to us so we can cut him up into tiny pieces in front of the entire nation." [...]

In neighboring Afghanistan, police contacted religious and community leaders to try to prevent bloodshed. Protests in Kabul and the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif only attracted a few hundred people and no violence was reported, but a cleric told one crowd: "If you kill Americans, it's legal and allowable."