Supporters of the banned political party TLP walk amid tear gas fired by police in Lahore. Reuters
A radical Islamist party on Saturday said five of its supporters have died in clashes with authorities in Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore, after three police officers were killed in the unrest.
The incident happened after thousands of Islamists launched their "long march" from the city toward the capital, Islamabad, demanding that the government release the leader of their outlawed party.
On Friday more than 1,000 people from Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) gathered after prayers to demand the release of their detained leader, blocking roads and firing projectiles.
Supporters of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan party remove a container on Friday. AFP
The rallygoers had set out for Islamabad to pressure the government to release Saad Rizvi, the head of the Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan party. Rizvi was arrested last year amid demonstrations against France over publishing caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.
The protests continued on Saturday.
The TLP has previously been behind major anti-France protests that earlier this year led to the embassy issuing a warning for all French citizens to leave the country.
"Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan lost two people Friday night and three more today to police firing," the party tweeted on Saturday.
Police in Lahore would not comment on the claim, but on Friday night said two of its officers had died.
Pakistan has deployed police and paramilitary personnel to prevent the demonstrators from leaving Lahore. Authorities also suspended cellular service in parts of Lahore and blocked roads.
Supporters of the banned Islamist political party Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan chant slogans in Lahore, Pakistan. Reuters
Interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, who had been in Dubai to watch Pakistan compete in the T20 cricket World Cup, returned home on Prime Minister Imran Khan's directive to monitor the situation.
The TLP has waged an anti-France campaign since President Emmanuel Macron defended the right of a satirical magazine to republish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed -- an act deemed blasphemous by many Muslims.
Six police officers were killed in April when the TLP staged days of rallies which paralysed roads.Few issues are as galvanising in Pakistan as blasphemy, and even the slightest suggestion of an insult to Islam can supercharge protests, incite lynchings, and unite most of the country's warring political parties.
An armed rebellion against Indian rule has raged for decades in Kashmir, and has left tens of thousands dead, mainly civilians. New Delhi accuses Pakistan of arming and training anti-India rebels and sending them across the border to launch attacks on Indian forces.
Thousands of Islamists blocked highways and rail tracks and clashed with police in different parts of Pakistan in protest against the arrest of their leader ahead of rallies denouncing French cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), officials said.
Nearly 450 ancient relics was handed over by France to Pakistan. Some of the relics date back to the 4,000 BC.
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An official source from the Saudi Interior Ministry said: “It has been decided to allow direct entry of travellers from all countries, for all those who have received a dose of the from 4/12/2021, provided that institutional quarantine procedures are applied to them for three days.”
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