At Least One Dead, 25 Hurt in Clashes Between Banned Islamist Group and Police in Pakistan - Videos
Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), banned in the country under anti-terrorism laws, resumed a march on Islamabad on Wednesday after talks with the government failed. The group has been demanding the release of the TLP chief and expulsion of the French ambassador over Emmanuel Macron's refusal to outlaw caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad last year.
A police officer was killed and at least 25 people were injured in Pakistan's Punjab Province on Wednesday after clashes broke out between local police and Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) protesters at Gujranwala District's Sadhoke area.
Local media reported, citing police officials, that Assistant Sub-inspector Akbar, from the Kasur District Police, has died in the violent clash with TLP.
Reuters reported that TLP activists used short machine guns, AK 47s, and pistols to target police officials resulting in "several officials being martyred". A police spokesman said there were no details on the number of those killed, but there were around 25 wounded.
The videos that emerged on social media appear to show hundreds of anti-riot forces deployed at the protest site using tear gas to disperse the crowds, who began a "long march" after talks with Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid broke down on Tuesday night.
The protesters had been waiting for the outcome of negotiations at Muridke, located between Lahore and Gujranwala, since Sunday.
TLP leader Syed Sarwar Shah Saifi accused the interior minister of lying about the negotiations and said they would not return to their homes until the Imran Khan government expels the French envoy.
Saifi claimed that France had committed blasphemy and the government should respond to the issue accordingly.
"Are these claimants of the state of Madina unable to respond to France? Have they become so enslaved to the Jews and the Christians?", the TLP leader said in a statement on Wednesday. The group claimed that it had lost at least 40 members during the protests.
While quoting the statement, Dawn News reported that the group warned the government of more bloodshed in the streets and said that the nation would be "rid of this dishonest, lying, and hypocritical government".
In April of this year, the Islamist group launched violent anti-France protests across the province of Punjab, in which around 600 police suffered severe injuries. The group held several protests across the country after French President Emmanuel Macron defended the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad and pledged to fight "Islamist separatism".