Thousands protest in Pakistan

More than 70,000 protesters in Peshawar have burnt a fast-food restaurant, offices of two mobile phone companies and three cinemas as violence continues in Pakistan for a third day over the Prophet Muhammad cartoons.

    Three people died and at least 45 were injured in the rioting

    Three people were killed and dozens injured in the violence in two cities, police and witnesses said on Wednesday.

     

    A 25-year-old man was killed when he was hit by an electric cable that was snapped by gunfire from protesters in an eastern district of Peshawar.

     

    The other fatality was an eight-year-old boy shot in the face by a bullet fired by a demonstrator, said Shahid Khan, a police officer.

     

    A 30-year-old man was shot dead in a clash with police in Lahore.

     

    At least 45 people were being treated for injuries in two state-run hospitals in Peshawar.

     

    Gunfire was heard near a burning KFC restaurant as police used tear gas and batons to fight back thousands of protesters blocking one of the city's main streets.


    Mobile companies torched

     

    The rioters ransacked the offices of Telenor, the Norwegian mobile phone company, witnesses said. They also burnt a

    KFC restaurant, three cinemas and offices of Mobilink - the main mobile phone operator in the country.

     

    A bus terminal operated by Daewoo, the Korean conglomerate, was torched, police said.


     

    Hundreds of Afghan refugees joined the protest in Peshawar, the capital of the North West Frontier Province.

     

    Hundreds of Afghan refugees
    joined the protest in Peshawar

    Many were chanting "Death to Denmark!" and "Hang those who drew the insulting cartoons".

     

    Others burnt Danish flags and effigies of the Danish prime minister.

     

    Most shops, public transport and other businesses were closed in the city.

     

    As police battled protesters in Peshawar, another violent demonstration erupted about 230km away in the town of Tank, where 2000 people rallied.

     

    Attiq Wazir, a police official, said protesters set fire to 30 shops in Tank selling music CDs and DVDs. 


    Suspected Muslim hardliners had issued warnings to music shops to close in Tank, on the edge of South Waziristan, a tribal region where security officials have said

    al-Qaida-linked foreign fighters are hiding.

     

    Policeman injured

     

    One policeman was injured when a protester opened fire to resist arrest, another police official said.

     

    As the violence raged in Peshawar, fighting flared up in the eastern city of Lahore for the second straight day.


    Some 1500 students surprised police by staging an unannounced rally outside Punjab University, said Chaudhry

    Shafqat, a senior police official.

     

    Shafqat said the students beat up a police officer and disrupted traffic on a main road. He said: "It all happened suddenly, and we are trying to control the situation."

     

    On Tuesday, thousands of protesters went on a rampage in Lahore, burning Western businesses like McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants.

     

    Two people died and police detained 125 people.

     

    Islamabad protests

     

    Violent protests also erupted in the capital, Islamabad, on Tuesday. More than 1000 students forced their way into a heavily guarded enclave housing foreign embassies.

     

    They damaged cars and a bank building, but were quickly expelled from the area with tear gas and water cannons.

     

    Western outlets  including KFC
    were torched by rioters

    Naeem Iqbal, the Islamabad police spokesman, said 142 students were arrested for

    disrupting the peace, damaging property and disregarding orders to disperse.

     

    A violent protest happened on Monday in Peshawar, where thousands of students marched around the city and broke windows.

     

    The cartoons first appeared in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten newspaper and have been reprinted by newspapers around the world, mostly in Europe.

     

    Many Muslims regard any depiction of the prophet as blasphemous. Newspapers publishing the pictures, however, have asserted their news value or the right to freedom of expression.

    SOURCE: Unspecified


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