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2 killed in Pakistan film protests

21 September 2012, 15:17

Karachi - A Pakistani policeman and a driver for a television station were shot dead on Friday during a day of protests condemning a film made in the United States and deemed insulting to Islam, officials said.

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

Thousands took to the streets in a series of different 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 fired off 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.

"They were shifted to hospital where one of our constables died," he added.

Investigation in to shooting

In the northwestern city of Peshawar, a TV station employee also died on Friday after being shot when protesters set alight and ransacked a cinema.

"He was shot in the chest. He was put on a ventilator after surgery but could not survive," said Doctor Mukhtar Khan, head of the Lady Reading Hospital.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said he had ordered an investigation into the man'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.

Security beefed up

Friday's deaths brings to four the number of people 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.

The interior minister said security had been beefed up in the capital with the army on alert and added that troops would be deployed if needed.

"We will not allow violence, we have told them we mean business," Malik said.



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