Police in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad have fired tear gas and rubber bullets on anti-government protesters attempting to storm Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s official residence, injuring six people, officials said..
Some 25,000 people began to march on the prime minister’s house late on Saturday after talks with the government mediated by the army failed to end the impasse.
Protesters have been camped outside parliament since August 15, demanding Sharif to resign and claiming that the election which swept him to power last year was rigged.
“The police are continuing to fire tear gas to disperse them,” an AFP news agency journalist at the scene reported.
The reporter said the shelling began when the protesters tried to remove some barricades located in front of the residences of the prime minister and president using cranes.
Wasim Raja, a spokesman for the government-run Pakistan Institute for Medical Sciences, Islamabad’s main government hospital, said: “We have received six people, they have rubber bullet injuries.”
Television pictures showed police in riot gear and some bloodied protesters being carried to ambulances.
The government issued a defiant statement saying Sharif would not be stepping down.
“There is no question of resignation or proceeding on leave by Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, nor any member from the government side has made such suggestion,” the statement said.
Sharif had earlier dismissed the two-week old impasse as a “tiny storm” that would end soon.
The crisis deepended on Thursday after the government asked the army to mediate, raising fears the military would use the situation to enact a “soft coup” and increase its dominance over civilian authorities.