| Faizabad turns into battlefield as violence unfolded | Police fired shells to stop mob from entering Islamabad | Protesters threw stones at police, tried to remove heavy containers

RAWALPINDI/ISLAMABAD  -  Rawalpindi police and thousands of sticks-wielding members of Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) entered a clash at Faizabad when the former attempted to stop the latter from entering the federal capital to register their protest against the publication of blasphemous caricatures in France.

The clashes left many of the protestors injured while some cops including SHO Waris Khan Abdul Aziz also sustained fatal injuries, police and eyewitnesses said. The injured were later moved to Allied Hospitals for medical treatment. The riots police also used intense tear gas shelling against the stone-throwing protesters who tried to hold a march towards Islamabad on the call of their chief Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi.

The city police also rounded up scores of activists of TLP and shifted them to different police stations. Score of protestors managed to climb on Metro Bus Service stations and marched on the route leading to Islamabad. Reportedly, they also damaged bus stations by pelting stones and with bamboos. There were unconfirmed reports that TLP Chief Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi was leading the rally.

Earlier, they also removed all the containers placed by the Rawalpindi police on different parts of Murree Road to stop the rally from marching towards Islamabad.

Mobile service remained suspended in the whole Rawalpindi division in order to sabotage the TLP march, while markets, shops and business centres in the city remained closed.

City Police Officer (CPO) Muhammad Ahsan Younas himself supervised the police action against the TLP protestors.

Journalist community accused TLP activists of harassing them and snatching mobile phones during coverage of the rally. The mob also detained a reporter of a private TV channel and harassed him.

Closure of roads and non-availability of public transport caused troubles for commuters and passengers.

Earlier, thousands of activists and leaders of TLP gathered at Liaquat Bagh on Murree Road despite harsh weather condition and stringent security of Rawalpindi police.

While holding sticks and bamboos, the protestors of Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi were chanting slogans against the French President. Some climbed on the Metro Bus Service station that earlier was heavily guarded by the police.

The protestors removed the heavy containers placed by the police on Murree Road to stop their march towards Faizabad, the junction point between the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

Sensing the mob getting out of control, the riot police fired tear gas shells at the protestors to disperse them while the mob pelted police with stones. The clash left many cops and protestors injured.

Meanwhile, the CPO summoned extra force to control the mob but failed.

The protestors also damaged the properties and shops along Murree Road.

A group of stick-wielding protestors also attacked and assaulted a member of the riots police unit on Murree Road. For the whole day, the small and big rallies of TLP kept entering the city from various roads and all the participants emerged into a big rally on Murree Road.

Use of tear gas shells by the police made the life of residents living along with Murree Road a hell.

After confronting with the Rawalpindi police, the TLP protestors managed to reach Faizabad where they faced fresh riot cops of Islamabad.

The blue shirts stationed on Faizabad Bridge also fired tear gas shells at the protestors while creating panic among them.

“A group of 350 protestors of TLP managed to dodge the very alert Islamabad police and entered the federal capital,” said a security official.

He added the protestors reached Old Murree Road (leading to Rawal Dam and Red Zone from Faizabad Interchange) where they also staged a protest sit-in.

Later, the Islamabad police stopped firing tear gas shells at the protestors. Finally, the rally of TLP managed to storm into Islamabad by removing all the obstacles including containers and three-layer security wall of cops.

Meanwhile, the chiefs of traffic police of twin cities though implemented comprehensive traffic plans to facilitate the residents of twin cities but even then the commuters faced hardships.

According to hospital sources, many cops landed in the allied hospitals with multiple injuries.

No officer of Rawalpindi and Islamabad police was available for his comments on the tense situation emerged after the clashes.

Till the filing of this report, more than 3000 protestors of TLP were staging protest sit-in at Old Murree Road while the police were reinforcing to face the protestors.

All the emergency services including Rescue 1122 were put on high alert while emergency was declared in the government-run hospitals of the twin cities.

IG Islamabad Muhammad Amir Zulfiqar Khan, DIG Operations Waqar Uddin Syed, all the SPs and DC Islamabad Muhammad Hamza Shafqaat were present at Faizabad Bridge to monitor the situation.