8 killed, 308 injured in clashes in Pakistan's protest
At least eight persons were reportedly killed and 308 others got injured as clashes erupted between police and protesters after a two-week long peaceful sit-in in Pakistani capital of Islamabad on Saturday night, opposition leaders and local media said, Xinhua reported.
The Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) chief Tahir ul Qadri, the co- organizer of the protest, claimed that his party's seven workers were killed and 75 others injured, while another co-organizer the chairman of the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) said his one worker was killed and scores of others injured in clashes.
However, the federal defense minister Khawja Asif rejected the claims by the opposition leaders and said no one was killed in the clashes.
The spokesperson of the government-run hospital the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), Khurram said 180 injured were shifted to the hospital and majority of them faced breathing problem due to teargas.
At least 128 wounded persons were shifted to the Poly Clinic Hospital where two of them were in critical condition.
According to officials of the both hospitals, at least 57 women, 12 children, 34 policemen and four media persons were among the wounded persons.
Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan said police used force after a group of demonstrators tried to enter presidency.
The protesters entered the courtyard of the Parliament after breaking its outside iron-made wall, but retreated after personnel of security forces ordered them to leave the area.
According to the reports, the gov't has ordered police to arrest both leaders to control the situation.
Police has arrested over 500 workers and shifted them to undisclosed locations.
The clashes are still going on as the demonstrators refused to leave the area despite heavy teargas shelling.
On the request of the federal government, Pakistan army has already deployed its 750 soldiers inside the important gov't buildings in the Red Zone in the first week of this month.
The clashes erupted at 10:35 p.m. (local time) after leaders of the two opposition parties, the PAT and the PTI, asked their workers to move from the parliament towards the PM House after two- week long peaceful sit-in in Islamabad.
Police used baton charge, fired tear gas shells and rubber bullets to disperse the thousands of the protesters who were demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The PTI leadership has announced a countrywide protest on Sunday against the incident, while some other parties have supported the call.
Another opposition party, the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) demanded the immediate resignation of the PM Sharif and also announced to observe one-day mourning on Sunday in the southern port city of Karachi.
Following the clashes, party workers of the PTI and PAT started protests and blocked main roads in other major cities, including Rawalpindi, Lahore, Faisalabad and Karachi.
Tens of thousands of supporters of the two parties started their two separate long marches from the eastern city of Lahore on Aug. 14 and reached Islamabad on Aug. 15, and entered a high security area "Red Zone" on Aug. 19 and started sit-in in front of the parliament.
Both parties held rounds of talks with gov't for their demands that finally ended at impasse.
PTI chief Khan, whose party has 34 seats in the lower house, alleged PM Sharif for rigging in the 2013 general elections. He has been demanding a probe into the rigging by a panel of the country's apex court followed by free and fair re-elections.
The PAT workers have been protesting for their 10-point agenda, including the resignation of the PM and the registration of a murder case against 21 persons, including the PM over police firing at protesters on June 17, 2014 in Lahore that killed 14 PAT workers and left 84 others wounded.