Innocence of Muslims: at least 15 people killed during anti-film protests in Pakistan
At least 15 people have been killed during violent protests which erupted on the streets of Pakistan’s main cities in anger at anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims made in the US.
Ten people were killed in the port city of Karachi and a further five died in the north-western city of Peshawar, hospital officials said.
Protesters also breached the diplomatic enclave in the capital, Islamabad, near the US embassy.
There has been widespread unrest over the amateur film, Innocence of Muslims.
Dozens of people have been reported wounded and some were in a critical condition.
Protests have already left several people dead around the world, including Pakistan, where the government had appealed in advance for peaceful protests, declaring a holiday and “day of love” for the Prophet Muhammad.
Although US targets have borne the brunt of protests against the film, anti-Western sentiment has been stoked further by caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad published this week in the satirical French magazine, Charlie Hebdo.
France shut embassies and other missions in around 20 countries across the Muslim world on Friday.
Protests were banned in France itself and in Tunisia, where France is the former colonial power, but there were widespread demonstrations elsewhere:
• A peaceful protest took place outside the US embassy in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur
• Some 3,000 people marched in the southern Iraqi city of Basra
• Thousands burned US and French flags in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka
• Crowds rallied in Baalbek in southern Lebanon in a protest organized by the Shia militant group, Hezbollah, burning US and Israeli flags
• There were fears of violence in the Libyan city of Benghazi where the US ambassador and three other American officials were killed in an attack on the US consulate in the city on 11 September
But it was in Pakistan’s major cities that protesters took to the streets in big numbers and tried to march on US diplomatic missions.
The worst of the violence took place in the country’s biggest city, Karachi, and the north-western city of Peshawar, close to Pakistan’s lawless tribal belt.
Police in Karachi fired live bullets in the air to disperse the crowds and one of those killed was a policeman. Health officials said 10 bodies were taken to two hospitals.
Several cinemas and banks were set on fire and there were reports of looting.
In Peshawar, protesters ransacked cinemas and a driver for Pakistan’s ARY TV was killed when police opened fire on the crowd.
In the capital, Islamabad, which saw its first clashes between protesters and security forces on Thursday, a police checkpost was burned as demonstrators breached the “red zone” where the main embassies and government offices are based.
Police used live rounds and tear gas as the crowd swelled to thousands of people.
The focal point of people’s anger was the US embassy and he had seen more people injured in one hour than all of Thursday.
The low-budget film that has prompted the unrest was made in the US and is said to insult the Prophet Muhammad.
Its exact origins are unclear and the alleged producer for the trailer of the film, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, is in hiding.
Anti-US sentiment grew after a trailer for the film dubbed into Arabic was released on YouTube earlier this month.
US citizens have been urged not to travel to Pakistan and the US embassy has paid for adverts on Pakistani TV showing President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemning the film.
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