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Pak calls in Army to protect diplomatic zone from protesters

Last Updated: Friday, September 21, 2012 - 09:42

Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday deployed Army in the sensitive diplomatic enclave after a protest over an anti-Islam film turned violent, leaving 86 people injured, including 36 policemen, as angry demonstrators tried to breach the high security area to reach the US embassy.

Members of student groups, including the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, began gathering outside the Red Zone in the heart of Islamabad, which includes the US embassy, Indian High Commission and missions of other countries as also sensitive government buildings, at around 2 pm in large numbers to protest against the anti-Islam film `Innocence of Muslims`.

The crowds swelled about two hours later as thousands of members of hardline religious groups, including Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat and Jamaat-ud-Dawah, came to Islamabad from Rawalpindi in a rally.

The Indian High Commission is located less than a kilometre from the gate of the diplomatic enclave.
All Indians in the diplomatic area are safe and they are inside the country`s mission, sources said.
The protesters fought running battles with riot police for almost three hours. They lobbed stones at police, who used tear gas, rubber bullets and batons while trying to disperse them.

At least 36 policemen and 50 protesters were injured.

After police failed to bring the situation under control, the Interior Ministry called in the army to quell the protest.

The unrest lasted for five hours and came to an end after sunset.
The Army has taken over the security of the diplomatic area. More protests are expected to take place tomorrow.

About 25 protesters were arrested for trying to breach security barriers and scaling the walls of the diplomatic enclave.
The protesters burnt at least two police posts.

They gathered in large numbers near the five-star Serena Hotel, located a short distance from the diplomatic enclave.

Clerics held talks with top security officials and finalised a "deal" under which they will end the protest and the police will release the arrested people.


First Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 18:29

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