Violence erupted at a meeting of the banned TLP group demanding the release of their imprisoned leader.
Four Pakistani police officers have been killed and hundreds injured when militants from a militant group clashed with security forces at a protest rally near the eastern city of Lahore, officials said.
The clashes took place on Wednesday during a meeting of the banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) party on the main road in Sheikhupura, outside Lahore, as the group prepares to march on Islamabad’s headquarters, a Punjab police spokesman said.
The TLP is protesting against the arrest of its leader Saad Rizvi, who was arrested in April when the group was banned by the authorities, and demanded that the French ambassador be removed for publishing several photos of the Prophet Muhammad with a French French magazine.
Rao Sardar Ali Khan, the Punjab police chief of police, said four police officers were killed and 263 injured.
Earlier, Rizvi’s spokesman, Sajid Saifi, said two TLP supporters were killed when police opened fire on a rally in Sadhuke. Police say they are unaware of any deaths between the protests.
Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Friday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck.
Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Friday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck, including rifle butts and ammunition.
Following days of protests, including a dispute over last week’s killing of three police officers, the interior ministry on Wednesday ordered the suspension of terrorist troops in accordance with anti-terrorism laws.
“They will be there for 60 days. I have given them the power to travel wherever they want in Punjab,” Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad told reporters.
“I still warn the TLP to return.”
Pakistan’s information minister, Fawad Chaudhry, said the government would use force to prevent TLP fighters from entering Islamabad’s capital.
“We have shown restraint so far but opposition to the government will not be tolerated,” he told reporters.
“The government will no longer consider the TLP as a political party. Instead, we will view it as a band of criminals. It has already been announced as a banned organization, ”Chaudhry said.
Authorities along the Grand Trunk Road came to a standstill as city officials had already set up a container to block entry and exit.
The government earlier this week announced the latest negotiations with the TLP, but the tour will resume on Wednesday.
“We have done our best to ensure that the talks go smoothly but the government does not want to deliver on its promises,” said TLP spokesperson Saifi.
“The expulsion of the French ambassador is our greatest need.”
This is the group’s third national campaign since 2017 due to demonstrations that Muslims consider to be extremely insulting.
The French magazine Charlie Hebdo first published the cartoon in 2006 and reprinted it last year to mark the opening of a case involving terrorists who killed its Paris office and terrorists in 2015.