Pakistan calls in the army to tackle violent protests

Pakistan calls in the army to tackle violent protests

Hospital officials said near 200 people were injured, a lot of them police.

State TV reported that the Interior Ministry said on Saturday that army troops had been summoned to assist the city's civil administration in clearing the Faizabad intersection.

The newspaper says 150 protesters were arrested as the operation kicked off. They support Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the leader of Tehreek-e Labbaik Pakistan, the hardline Islamist movement spearheading demonstrations. "They have fired tear gas shells [at security forces], they also cut the fibre optic cables of cameras that were monitoring their protest".

A senior government official speaking on condition of anonymity, due to restrictions on speaking to the media, told Anadolu Agency that the security forces had been asked not to take on the violent protesters pending further orders.

The rallies were triggered by a change in the wording of an electoral oath for lawmakers, which protesters claim was done to appease religious minorities they consider heretics.

Heavy contingents of police, FC and Rangers were deployed to the interchange.

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Protests also broke out in Lahore and the southern port city of Karachi, local media reported.

Six people were killed and 200, mostly police, were injured as police tried to clear the intersection linking the Pakistani capital with the garrison city of Rawalpindi, doctors at local hospitals said.

Pakistani police fought running battles on Saturday with stone-throwing activists of the ultra-religious Tehreek-e-Labaik party but failed to dislodge the activist who are blocking roads into Islamabad.

Markets and shops were closing in the megacity, Pakistan's commercial hub, as alarmed residents stayed inside while clerics called for more demonstrators to come and help protect the dignity of the Prophet Mohammed.

Taking note of a worsening situation, military chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa telephoned Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to call for the peaceful handling of the protest, according to a tweet by military spokesman Maj. The media blackout was followed by suspension of services of popular social networking sites - Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Authorities have hesitated to act against the sit-in, citing fears of violence as the demonstrators have vowed to die for their cause.