Security personnel walk back after having a talk with the supporters of TLP party during a protest in Lahore. AFP
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed announced on Monday that after the first round of talks with the recently proscribed Tehrik-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), 11 policemen who were taken hostage in Lahore a day earlier have been released.
"Talks have started with the TLP. The first round went well and the second will take place after Sehri," Rashid said in a video message. "They have released 11 policemen who were made hostages and have gone into the Yateem Khana Chowk Lahore mosque. The police have also stepped back."
The minister expressed the hope that the rest of the matters would be resolved with the TLP in the second round of talks. "These negotiations were held successfully by the Punjab government. We hope that the second meeting after sehri will also prove fruitful and matters will be resolved amicably with the TLP," he added.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Lahore police said that Lahore police chief Ghulam Mehmood Dogar had participated in the operation to free the officials. "Police contingents as well as Rangers have been deployed at sensitive areas across the city.”
On April 14, the government decided to put a ban on TLP under the anti-terrorism law, the summary of which was later approved by the Prime Minister Imran Khan.
In November last year, the TLP had staged a sit-in in Rawalpindi demanding expulsion of the French Ambassador over publication of blasphemous caricatures.
Supporters of the banned Islamist political party TLP block a road during a protest in Lahore. Reuters
Previously the TLP had set an April 20 deadline for the expulsion of the French ambassador.
The group has been behind an anti-France campaign for months since President Emmanuel Macron defended the right of Charlie Hebdo magazine to republish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad — an act deemed blasphemous by many Muslims.
"The TLP activists have two fuel tankers containing thousands of liters of petrol. They are throwing petrol bombs and stones at security officials, and also shooting bullets as the result of which 11 officials are injured," Lahore police spokesman Arif Rana said.
Thousands of supporters from the Tehrik-e-Labbaik Pakistan have blocked major intersections in cities throughout Pakistan this week, with two police officers killed in clashes with rioters.
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