10 dead in Pakistani protests

Sept. 21, 2012 at 11:13 AM
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- At least 10 people died in Pakistan Friday as protests over an anti-Islam film turned violent, officials said.

People took to the streets across Pakistan Friday to observe Youm-i-Ishq-i-Rasool -- Love for Prophet Muhammad -- which the government declared a holiday to allow tens of thousands to protest in defense of Islam and Muhammad, Dawn News reported.

Demonstrations in Karachi, Peshawar and Islamabad turned violent and protesters damaged government and private property. In Karachi, five people were killed and another five people were killed in Peshawar, the BBC reported.

Dozens of other people have been reported wounded.

The Pakistani government blocked mobile phone services in 15 cities, Dawn said. The decision to block mobile services until Friday evening was taken because of security risks that could arise from a number of religious rallies planned for the day.

Cities affected by the government decision included Karachi, Lahore, Multan, and Murree, the report said.

The U.S. State Department has issued a travel warning for Americans against traveling to Pakistan.

Dawn said roads leading to diplomatic missions in various cities were also blocked, following Thursday's demonstrations in Islamabad in which thousands of protesters, angered over the anti-Islam video made in the United States, fought with police near the capital's diplomatic enclave.

Dawn said businesses, shopping plazas, educational institutions, banks and courts and other public and private offices also remained closed Friday.

At least 86 people, including 36 police officers, were injured in clashes in Islamabad as protesters tried to reach the U.S. Embassy, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

Authorities called in the army, Pakistan's News International reported, adding 57 policemen were injured, two of them seriously after being hit by thrown stones.

There was also air surveillance to maintain peace in the affected areas as order returned in the evening after army troops were deployed, the report said.

The Christian Science Monitor reported the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, in its efforts to contain the anti-American sentiments, provided Pakistani TV stations a "Made in U.S.A" public service announcement video. In it, U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were shown disassociating Americans from the offending anti-Islam video.

"Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths," Obama was seen as saying in the video. "We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others."

The New York Times reported the video clips with the official seal of the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad were aired in English with subtitles in Urdu.

The Times said with police not being able to keep protesters from approaching the U.S. Embassy, government officials blamed opposition political parties and banned militant groups for provoking the incidents.

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