(AFP) — At least seven Pakistan law enforcement officials and particular rangers had been taken hostage Sunday by supporters of a radical Islamist celebration, officers stated, after days of violent anti-France protests.
Rioting has rocked Pakistan for the final week for the reason that chief of the now-banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) was detained within the second greatest metropolis Lahore after calling for the expulsion of the French ambassador.
The protests have paralysed cities and led to the deaths of six policemen, prompting the French embassy to recommend all its nationals quickly depart the nation.
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“The TLP members are holding five police officers and two rangers hostage,” stated Rana Arif, a police spokesman in Lahore instructed AFP, referring to the nation’s paramilitary power.
Firdous Ashiq Awan, a spokeswoman for the Punjab provincial authorities, stated 12 policemen had been kidnapped and taken to a TLP mosque in Lahore, the place a whole lot of supporters had been gathered.
“Violent groups armed with petrol bombs and acid bottles stormed the Nawankot police station this morning,” she tweeted, including that six law enforcement officials have now died in clashes this week.
A video circulating on-line — the authenticity of which has been confirmed to AFP by Lahore metropolis police — exhibits a senior police officer with a blood-stained bandage wrapped round his head being held on the mosque.
The deputy superintendent, the third most senior officer from the raided station, speaks to the digital camera with an expressionless face.
The digital camera then swings spherical to indicate wounded TLP supporters gathered on the ground.
The TLP has been behind an anti-France marketing campaign for months since President Emmanuel Macron defended the proper of Charlie Hebdo journal to republish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad — an act deemed blasphemous by many Muslims.
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Tear fuel and stone-throwing
TLP leaders say a number of of the celebration’s supporters had been killed in Sunday’s clashes.
“We won’t bury them until the French ambassador is kicked out,” Allama Muhammad S
Shafiq Amini, a TLP chief within the metropolis, stated in a video assertion. The celebration has given the federal government an April 20 deadline to behave.
Muhammad Shabir, an injured TLP protester, stated supporters had been staging a peaceable sit-in once they had been attacked by police.
“They fired directly at us and threw acidic water. Some men had their chest burned, others their back, face or whole body,” he instructed AFP.
“The government of Pakistan has done a big injustice to us.”
The police stated they’d not tried a clearance operation and had acted in self-defence. They wouldn’t touch upon the reported TLP deaths.
An oil truck was seized and petrol bombs thrown at officers, each Arif and Awan stated.
An AFP reporter on the scene stated police used tear fuel in opposition to stone-throwing protesters.
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Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed stated TLP supporters had blocked 191 websites over the previous week, with the mosque in Lahore now a gathering level.
“No negotiations are taking place, tried for two-three months but they are not ready to backtrack from their agenda and the government has no other choice but to establish its writ,” he stated at a press convention.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s authorities has struggled to carry TLP to heel through the years, however this week introduced an outright ban in opposition to the group — successfully labelling it a terrorist outfit.
Still, on Saturday he recommended the celebration hadn’t been banned for its ideology, however reasonably its strategies.
“Let me make clear to people here & abroad: Our govt only took action against TLP under our anti-terrorist law when they challenged the writ of the state and used street violence & attacking the public & law enforcers,” he tweeted.
Khan stated insulting the prophet damage Muslims all over the world.
“We cannot tolerate any such disrespect & abuse,” he added.
Pakistan on Friday blocked social media and prompt messaging platforms for a number of hours to move off main protests.
Blasphemy is a delicate subject in conservative Pakistan, the place legal guidelines enable for the loss of life penalty for use on anybody deemed to have insulted Islam or Islamic figures.
The French embassy’s name for its nationals to depart Pakistan seems to have gone largely unheeded to date.
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