Pakistan protest death toll rises to 15

2012-09-21 20:02
A Pakistani Muslim demonstrator throws a tear gas shell back towards riot police during their attempt to reach the US embassy during a protest against an anti-Islam film in Islamabad. (Aamir Qureshi, AFP)

A Pakistani Muslim demonstrator throws a tear gas shell back towards riot police during their attempt to reach the US embassy during a protest against an anti-Islam film in Islamabad. (Aamir Qureshi, AFP)

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Karachi - At least 15 people died and nearly 200 were wounded in Pakistan during violent protests on Friday condemning a US-made film insulting Islam, defying a government call for only peaceful demonstrations, officials said.

Nine people were killed in Karachi, the country's largest city, and four in the north-western city of Peshawar, hospital officials said.
The combined total of wounded in Karachi, Peshawar and in the capital Islamabad was 195.

Doctor Mohammad Shafqat of Karachi's Jinnah hospital said that it had received four dead bodies and 65 people with injuries, with more wounded arriving.

Doctor Mohammad Ayub at the Civil hospital, said his medics had received five dead bodies, including that of a police officer, and at least 40 injured.

The policeman was killed in an exchange of fire with protesters in Karachi, the country's largest city, police official Mohammad Shakeel said.

Condemning film

Thousands took to the streets in a series of different demonstrations across Karachi, home to an estimated 18 million, to condemn the film, "Innocence of Muslims".

Scuffles broke out when protesters tried to march towards the US consulate, throwing stones at police and trying to remove shipping containers that blocked the road, police said.

Officers fired off tear gas shells and fired into the air to disperse the crowd, but three policemen were wounded by gunfire from an unknown direction, Shakeel said.

In the north-western city of Peshawar, the Lady Reading Hospital said it had three dead, including a TV station employee who was shot when protesters set alight and ransacked a cinema.

Doctor Farman at Khyber Teaching Hospital, who used only one name, confirmed that another body had been brought in after the demonstrations.

Hospital doctors in Peshawar gave a combined total of 60 people wounded.

Calls for peaceful protests

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said he had ordered an investigation into the TV station employee's death and repeated government calls for protests to remain peaceful.

ARY, the man's employer, accused the police of murder.

"We consider this incident murder. We strongly condemn it. The policeman involved in the firing incident should be arrested immediately and sacked," said senior ARY executive Owais Tohid.

The channel broadcast disturbing footage of its employee, clearly in a critical condition and receiving urgent medical care in hospital.

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