ISLAMABAD    -  Islamabad police on Friday fired tear gas shells and resorted to aerial firing to disperse hundreds of protestors gathered at Shahrah-e-Soharwardi to reach France Embassy to register their protest against the publication of blasphemous caricatures in France.

Due to heavy tear gas shelling by police, the protestors could not storm into France Embassy. Reportedly, scores of protestors belonging to different religious parties fell unconscious. Dozens of protestors were held by police but released later. 

According to details, more than 3,000 activists of various religious parties and members of civil society assembled at Aabpara Chowk on call of head of Mutahida Talaba Mohaz to march towards French Embassy to register their protest against printing of blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (SAW) in Charlie Hebdo magazine in France. The protestors were chanting slogans in favour of Islam, Quran and Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (SAW) and against the President of France Emmanuel Macron and Editor of Charlie Hebdo.  They also demanded the government to cut off diplomatic ties with France.  A heavy contingent of Islamabad police, following the directions of Inspector General of Police (IGP) Muhammad Amir Zulfiqar Khan, made extra ordinary arrangements to stop the protestors from moving towards Embassy of France in Diplomatic Enclave. For this, the district administration had sealed all the roads leading towards Diplomatic Enclave by placing containers and other barricades. 

The violent protestors broke through security blockades near the Red Zone and attempted to march towards France Embassy prompting police to use tear gas shells.  With firing tear gas shells, the area turned into a battle field as protestors hurled stones at police vehicles and vandalised a police post. They also set plants and dry grass on fire in a forest opposite Serena Hotel. During the protest demo, no one was injured and protesters later moved back towards a gathering spot originally agreed upon with the authorities by the organisers, said a police spokesman.

“The protestors had promised the authority and police bosses that they will not take law into hand or will cross the barricades but unfortunately they did and police have to fire tear gas shells to disperse them,” said a senior police officer while talking to The Nation.

He said no injury was reported so far. 

He said the protestors pelted cops with stones and damaged a police checkpost. 

Meanwhile, the speakers including chief of Mutahida Talaba Muhaz condemned the police brutality against peaceful protestors. They said they would again bring out a massive rally to storm into French Embassy to register their strong protest against the publication of blasphemous cartoons in a French magazine. Due to standoff between police and protestors, traffic remained blocked on many roads of federal capital causing troubles for commuters.