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Six dead in Pakistan in name-change unrest

ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan, April 12 (UPI) -- Six people were killed Monday and more than 200 were injured following protests over plans to rename Pakistan's North-West Frontier province.

The Pakistani Parliament sent a decision to a committee on constitutional reforms April 1 to change the name of North-West Frontier province to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

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The name Pakhtunkhwa reflects the Pashtun ethnic majority of the province of 21 million people. The Hazara and other ethnic minorities oppose the name change, though government officials said they would enjoy the same rights as Pashtuns.

Non-Pashtun protesters clashed with police Monday in the city of Abbotabad, burning security vehicles, an ambulance and a local police station. Six people were killed and more than 200 injured in the skirmishes, Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reports.

Senior police officials told Dawn police used tear gas and opened fire on the demonstrators following a ban on public gatherings in Abbotabad.

Ethnic Hazaras chanted anti-government slogans in the streets Monday, demanding a separate province for the ethnic community.

Provincial officials said they were trying to settle the issue through peaceful negotiations. The region has been unsettled since the decision was handed over to the constitutional committee April 1.

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