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Pakistan: Over 16 killed, 200 injured in anti-US protests in Pakistan


ISLAMABAD, (Xinhua): At least 16 people were killed and nearly 200 others injured as a new wave of anti-U.S. protests swept Pakistan on Friday, according to local authorities and media reports.

The week-long protests in the country, triggered by a U.S.-made film "Innocence of Muslims" which is deemed by Muslims as an insult to their prophet Mohammed, reached its peak on Friday as the Pakistani government declared the day as a public holiday for a nation-wide protest against the anti-Islam film.

Despite the government's call for a peaceful protest, the demonstrations in the country turned out violent as protestors tried to storm the U.S. diplomatic establishments in the cities of Islamabad, Karachi, Peshwar and Lahore.

In Islamabad, tens of thousands of protestors on Friday afternoon launched a protest for the second consecutive day outside the diplomatic enclave where the U.S. embassy is located. Clashes broke out when demonstrators tried to break through the security barriers set by police outside the diplomatic enclave located in the northeastern part of the city.

During the clashes, police tried to repulse the protestors by firing into air and shelling tear gas while protestors retaliated by pelting stones. At least 18 policemen and two dozens protestors were reportedly injured in the clashes. Two police check posts, five vehicles and one petrol station were also torched in the conflicts, said local media.

In the southern port city of Karachi, protests turned bloody when riot police tried to disperse the crowds marching towards the U.S. consulate in the city. At least 12 people including two cops were reportedly killed and over 110 others injured in the clashes between police and protestors. Four police vehicles, five cinemas and three to five banks were also reportedly burnt in the protest.

The situation in Peshawar, the largest city in the country's northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, is no better than that in Karachi. At least four people were killed and over 40 others injured in the protest. A number of cinemas, shops and restaurants were torched. One bank and one office building were also burnt during the protest.

Lahore, capital city of Punjab province in east Pakistan, seems to be the least hit city in Friday's protest. Thousands of people took to the streets in the city Friday afternoon in protest against the anti-Islam film. Christian community in the city also joined the demonstration to show solidarity with the Muslims. No serious casualties and damages were reported.

No Americans were hurt in the protests in the afore-mentioned cities.

Earlier on Friday morning, Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf delivered a speech in the capital's convention centre, saying that an attack on the Prophet Hazrat Mohammad is an attack on the core belief of 1.5 billion Muslims. He said no one should be allowed to defame religion on the excuse of freedom of expression. He urged the United States to frame laws to stop such blasphemous acts.

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