Our Staff Reporters
PESHAWAR/LAHORE/KARACHI - US on Tuesday halted public dealing in all its diplomatic missions in Pakistan as police battled with enraged people protesting against an anti-Islam film on the third consecutive day.
Police used tear gas to disperse a crowd of more than 2,000 protesters trying to reach the US consulate in Peshawar on Tuesday. Around the same number of people marched through the country’s largest city, Karachi, towards the US consulate.
There have been furious protests outside US embassies and other American symbols in at least 20 countries, and the American ambassador to Libya and three other US diplomats in the North African country have been among those killed.
Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan have all blocked access to YouTube, following the video-sharing website’s failure to take down the anti-Islam film, “Innocence of Muslims”, which was made in America.
A female suicide bomber killed 12 people in Kabul on Tuesday in an attack claimed by an insurgent group as revenge for the film. The blast brought the total number killed in a week-long violent backlash against over the film to 30. In Pakistan, two protesters died after demonstrating against the film in Lower Dir, close to the Afghan border, and another two outside the US consulate in Karachi. According to a statement issued by US embassy in Islamabad, all diplomatic missions in the country would be closed for public due to mounting security concerns.
The US diplomatic personnel were shifted to unclosed location from Karachi consulate as angry protesters advancing to the diplomatic building in red zone of the largest and port city of Pakistan.
In Lahore, the second largest city of the country, up to 900 people demonstrated near the US consulate, chanting “Obama is a dog” and “Death to the USA”.
US consulate in Lahore was also vacated by US officials who have been shifted to other safe places, local media reports said. Authorities have blocked all roads goes toward US diplomatic building in Lahore.
Nearby roads were blocked and security tightened in Peshawar as well where protesters chanting anti-US slogans and burning the Stars and Stripes flag gathered outside the US mission to vent their fury.
Riot police with armoured vehicles were deployed to block access to the consulate in Peshawar, the main city in country’s restive northwest, where Taliban and al-Qaeda militants have strongholds.
“We used tear gas shells and lobbed gas grenades because the protesters were trying to come closer to the sensitive area,” senior police officer Imtiaz Khan said. He said more than 1,000 police were on hand to block the road to the US consulate.
Addressing the crowd, the local leader of the Sunni party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Shabbir Ahmed lashed out at the United States, demanding the Pakistani government expel the American ambassador and close its missions in Pakistan. “We are ready to sacrifice our lives to uphold the dignity of our Prophet (PBUH),” he said.
In Dera Ismail Khan, All Students Organisation protested outside the press club and staged a demonstration. They also chanted slogans and strongly condemned the movie ridiculing Islam.
Students of Bahauddin Zakariya University protested in Multan while All Parties also took out a rally in Tank. Various political and religious parties along with student federations also staged protests in Toba Tek Singh, Mianwali, Chakwal, Muzaffarabad, Kotli, Umer Kot and many other areas across country.