Violent protests against an American-made film ridiculing Prophet Mohammad and depicting Islam in a poor light have left at least nineteen people dead in Pakistan, media reports citing officials said late Friday.
Although protests were held across Pakistan on Friday, the worst of the day's violence occurred in the southern port city of Karachi and north-western city of Peshawar. While the violence left 14 people dead in Karachi, five more were killed in Peshawar.
Earlier in the day, police in Karachi fired teargas shells as well as live bullets in the air after a large rally that began peacefully turned violent. Protesters are said to have set three cinema theaters and three banks on fire, and there were reports of widespread looting in the city.
Local media reported that gunfire from the agitated crowd had killed a policemen as security forces were attempting to prevent the protesters from heading to the US Consulate in the city. Dozens were reportedly injured in the violence.
In Peshawar, protestors vandalized and torched three cinema halls as well as the chamber of commerce. Among the five people killed in the city was Mohammad Amir, an employee of Pakistan's ARY TV. He is said to have died after being hit by a bullet in police firing.
Other Pakistani cities, including capital Islamabad and Lahore, also witnessed large demonstrations on Friday, but they were not as violent as the ones in Karachi and Peshawar. Nevertheless, there were reports of clashes between protesters and police in Lahore.
Islamabad, which had seen violent protests outside the US Embassy a day earlier, witnessed similar protests on Friday. Demonstrators set fire to a police check point located near the main embassies and government offices, and overturned shipping containers placed to prevent them from advancing to the US Consulate. Nevertheless, no deaths were reported in the city.
Incidentally, Pakistani government had declared a holiday on Friday after Thursday's violent protests in Islamabad and urged the country's predominantly Muslim population to observe the day as 'Love the Prophet Day' with peaceful demonstrations.
Further, the US government spent $70,000 for advertisements on Pakistani TV on Thursday, featuring President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denouncing the video in previous public events held in Washington. The footage contained an image of the Presidential seal to show that it is official, and a notice indicating that the ads were paid for by the US government.
Simple protests against the anti-Islam film were staged in several other countries on Friday, including Iraq, Iran, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia and Lebanon. None of them were as violent as the ones held in Pakistan.
Notably, more than 45 people have been already killed in violent protests across the Muslim world over the anti-Islam film titled "Innocence of Muslims." The protests erupted last week after an Arabic-translated trailer of the film was posted on the YouTube last week. The protests mainly targeted US embassies and consulates as the controversial video was made in the United States.
Those killed in the violence include the US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans. The diplomats were killed in an attack on the US consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi by a mob enraged by the controversial film.
by RTT Staff Writer
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