Thirteen killed in Pakistan anti-film protests

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Published Friday, September 21, 2012

Updated 9:41pm: At least 17 people were killed and more than 200 wounded during violent protests in Pakistan Friday against a US-made film insulting Islam, officials said.

Twelve people were killed in Karachi, the country's largest city, and five in the northwestern city of Peshawar, hospital officials said, after the eruption of violence defied a government call for only peaceful demonstrations.

The combined total of wounded in Karachi, Peshawar and in the capital Islamabad was 229.

A doctor at Karachi's Jinnah hospital told AFP they had received five dead and 65 people with injuries, while the city's Civil hospital said it had also had five bodies, including that of a police officer, and at least 40 injured.

The policeman was killed in an exchange of fire with protesters in Karachi, the country's largest city, police official Mohammad Shakeel said.

A doctor at Abbasi Shaheed hospital in Karachi told AFP they also received two dead bodies, including that of a police official, and 10 wounded.

Thousands took to the streets in a series of demonstrations across Karachi, home to an estimated 18 million, to condemn the film, "Innocence of Muslims."

Scuffles broke out when protesters tried to march towards the US consulate, throwing stones at police and trying to remove shipping containers that blocked the road, police said.

Officers launched tear gas shells and fired into the air to disperse the crowd, but three policemen were wounded by gunfire from an unknown direction, Shakeel said.

Police said three cinemas were set on fire and a number of shops including a KFC restaurant were ransacked.

In the northwestern city of Peshawar, the Lady Reading Hospital said it had four dead, including a TV station employee shot when protesters set alight and ransacked a cinema.

Doctor Farman at Khyber Teaching Hospital, who used only one name, confirmed that another body had been brought in after the demonstrations.

Hospital doctors in Peshawar gave a combined total of 79 people wounded.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said he had ordered an investigation into the TV station employee's death and repeated government calls for protests to remain peaceful.

ARY, the man's employer, accused the police of murder.

"We consider this incident murder. We strongly condemn it. The policeman involved in the firing incident should be arrested immediately and sacked," said senior ARY executive Owais Tohid.

The channel broadcast disturbing footage of its employee, clearly in a critical condition and receiving urgent medical care in hospital.

In Islamabad, a doctor at the Services Hospital said 35 people were brought in with injuries, including eight policemen and four civilians with gunshot wounds.

Overall, 19 people have been killed in Pakistan during protests over the past week against a trailer for the crudely made film, made by extremist Christians in the United States.



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