Nine dead in Pakistan clashes as police block rally

The death toll in Pakistan has risen to nine during three days of violence that began when police blockaded roads to Lahore to prevent protestors attending a rally

Nine dead in Pakistan clashes as police block rally

World Bulletin/News Desk

The third day of violence in Pakistan has seen a police officer die in hospital, the ninth fatality, as a planned anti-government rally looked unlikely to start.

Police efforts to prevent demonstrators reaching the rally in Lahore seemed successful on Sunday but came at the price of deadly clashes between police and supporters of the Pakistan Awami Tehrik party, known as PAT.

Two police officers and seven opposition supporters were killed in violence in north-eastern Punjab province as officers blocked roads to prevent people reaching a ‘martyrs’ day’ rally to be held to mark the deaths of 14 activists in clashes with police in June.

PAT’s leader Dr Tahir ul Qadri is now wanted for murder following the police deaths and women supporters armed with sticks are guarding his home in Lahore to prevent his arrest. The cleric has previously urged his supporters to tackle the police with violence.

By sealing off roads, police have also prevented food, fuel and other supplies from reaching Lahore, Pakistan’s second largest city. Nearly 90 per cent of gas stations in Lahore and other Punjabi cities are closed.

Police carried out mass arrests of PAT activists on Saturday night and around 230 were seized in Bhakkar district, where a police station was torched a day earlier, city police chief Shakir Hussein said.

Around 20 police officers who had been taken hostage by PAT supporters in Lahore and Sargodha districts on Saturday were set free later that night after being severely beaten, Punjab state Law Minister Rana Mashood said.

More than two dozen PAT activists were hospitalized in different parts of the province, accoridng to hospital and party sources.

Qadri returned to Pakistan from Canada in June to bring about a "revolution" against the current "so-called democratic system."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 10 Ağustos 2014, 14:17