Clashes erupt after Islamists blockade Pakistan capital

Clashes erupt after Islamists blockade Pakistan capital
Pakistan's capital is in lockdown after Islamist protesters blockaded Islamabad, leading to clashes with security forces.
2 min read
25 November, 2017

Pakistan - clashes erupt

Clashes erupted in Pakistan's capital after police tried to break up a sit-in by Islamist protesters on Saturday, leaving at least one dead and scores injured.

A policeman was killed and over 100 injured as security forces fired rubber bullets and tear gas at the crowds in Islamabad.

The sit-in has led to a lockdown in the Pakistan capital, as Islamists blocked roads with tree trunks and burning tyres, while police used shipping containers to funnel protesters.

Thousands of riot police closed in to break the blockade with rocks thrown between both sides.

At least 110 people have been injured - including 66 security forces - according to AFP, while an eight-year-old boy died when his ambulance couldn't reach hospital due to the barricades.

Around 1,000 protesters from the new hard-line Islamist group Tehreek-e-Labaik blockaded the Pakistan capital over a new electoral oath which the party says amounts to blasphemy.

They are demanding the sacking of Law Minister Zahid Hamid for "blasphemy" over the oath, which the government says was an administration error.

"We are in our thousands. We will not leave. We will fight until end," Tehreek-e-Labaik party spokesman Ejaz Ashrafi told Reuters.

The protests have led to huge traffic jams, with many of Islamabad's usually packed streets empty of people due to the unrest.

Tehreek-e-Labaik supporters have taken to the streets of other Pakistan cities in solidarity with the Islamabad protesters, with fears that Islamist activism could turn violent.

The group demands the establishment of harsher Sharia law in Pakistan and have used to slogan "Death to Blasphemers" as a rallying call.

They had a strong showing in last month's elections in the conservative, largely Pashto province of Peshawar.

Agencies contributed to this story.