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Pakistan: 7 killed in clashes between police, cleric supporters

The followers of Tahirul Qadri clashed with police over removal of security barriers near his Lahore residence.

By: Press Trust of India | Lahore |
June 17, 2014 5:17:57 pm

At least seven persons, including two women and a policeman, were killed and more than 70 wounded in violent clashes between supporters of a Canada-based influential cleric and Pakistani police here on Tuesday.

The followers of Tahirul Qadri, who had last year came to Pakistan from Canada to lead an anti-corruption march just before the elections, clashed with police over removal of security barriers near Quadri’s Lahore residence.

“We have received seven dead bodies and 70 injured,” Jinnah Hospital Lahore Medical Superintendent Abdul Rauf told PTI. He said two women and a policemen were among the dead.

He said majority of the injured persons had suffered bullet injuries.

“We need blood for operation of some six injured who are in critical condition,” he said.

The incident could put Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif under political pressure as the country’s military in engaged in a major offensive against Taliban militants in North Waziristan.

The clashes broke when police went to Quadri’s residence following the Punjab’s PML-N government’s order to remove security barriers near Quadri’s residence in the city’s Model Town area — a few kilometres from the office of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

The police surrounded the residence and office of Qadri’s party, the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), meaning ‘Pakistan People’s Movement’, and warned his supporters to leave.

Eyewitnesses said the PAT workers refused to vacate the place leading to the clashes with police.

Qadri’s followers were baton-charged and police used tear gas to disperse them. Later gunshots were fired which hit many PAT workers.

“The police commandos only returned the fire (by PAT workers). We have recovered huge quantity of weapons from the PAT secretariat including Minhajul Quran seminary,” Lahore police chief Chaudhry Shafiq Gujjar told reporters.

He said one constable was killed and 22 personnel were wounded in the clash.

“The PAT had made it a no-go area and we had to clear it,” Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said.

Some 1,000 police personnel including Elite Force commandos were involved in the operation.

Meanwhile, Qadri said from Canada that the Shahbaz Sharif government had committed an act of  barbarianism and terrorism.

“The PML-N government is gripped by fear of my arrival in Pakistan. The revolution which was to begin on my arrival has started now and the rulers will have no place in Pakistan,” he said. Qadri is due to return to Pakistan on June 23.

Opposition leaders including Imran Khan, Altaf Hussain, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Shiekh Rashid condemned the brutal act of the Punjab police.

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