PESHAWAR/KARACHI - Two protesters died on Monday as rallies across the country over an anti-Islam film intensified, with thousands taking to the streets, burning US flags and effigies of President Barack Obama.
About 800 people demonstrated in the northwestern town of Warai, in Upper Dir district, setting fire to a magistrate’s house and the local press club before a protester was killed in an exchange of gunfire with police. Another demonstrator died on Monday afternoon after being shot in the head during clashes with police near the US consulate in Karachi on Sunday, a hospital official said. The protesters set on fire a local press club and office of the Tehsildar. The law enforcement agencies personnel resorted to action when the protesters made an attempt to attack the office of sub-divisional magistrate.
According to details, students from local college and schools on the call of a religious party staged a protest demonstration at Warai Town of Upper Dir. The protesters when reached near local press club made an attempt to force the journalists to cover the rally. The protesters however forcibly entered and set on fire the furniture and other belongings in the press club. Later, the protesters moved towards government offices and set on fire the office of Tehsildar, but they were blocked by contingents of police when they made similar attempt against the office of magistrate. The protesters reportedly pelted stones against the police personnel and the police retaliated by opened firing. The official claimed that the police only went for aerial firing. However, the firing caused the life of one and injured two others.
Later, the protesters were dispersed and the injured were shifted to hospital. District Coordination Officer Mehmood Aslam and District Police Officer Ijaz Abid have ordered inquiry into the incident. Up to 3,000 university students, teachers and employees marched in Peshawar, the main city of the militant-plagued northwest, chanting anti-US slogans and demanding a ban on the “Innocence of Muslims” movie. The low-budget film, thought to have been produced by a small group of Christian rightwing extremists in the United States, has sparked violent anti-American protests across the Islamic world. “One person was killed and two injured during exchange of fire between the police and protesters,” Mohammad Irshad, a senior local government official in Upper Dir, said. Officials baton-charged protesters, who were chanting anti-US slogans, and fired tear gas to try to disperse them, Irshad said. They also fired live rounds into the air, prompting the demonstrators to return fire, he said, although it was unclear who fired the fatal shot. Ihsanullah Khan, police chief for Upper Dir, which is adjacent to a former Taliban stronghold crushed in 2009, said 22 protesters had been arrested and the situation was under control. Hundreds of students protested in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, with caricatures of Obama paced on a donkey as a gesture of humiliation.
At another protest in Peshawar, some 350 activists from Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, a student wing of the hardline Sunni party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), blocked a main road by setting fire to tyres and burning a US flag. In Karachi, up to 100 youths from JI rallied, chanting anti-US slogans and trying to reach the American consulate before being dispersed by police with tear gas.