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Islamic Parties and Police Clashed in Pakistan

The Pakistan Islamist Party Tehrik-e-Labaik finally freed 11 policemen who were held hostage.

Eleven police personnel were released following negotiations between the government and a representative of Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) who barricaded themselves at its headquarters east of Lahore. TLP claims at least three of its members died in clashes with the police on Monday (19th April,2021).

Photos showing the hostages wrapped in bandages on their heads, legs or arms were uploaded to social media by the perpetrators. “They have released the eleven policemen who were taken hostage,” said Home Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad.

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Firdous Ashiq Awan, spokesman for the Punjab provincial government, said the hostages were taken to a mosque run by TLP in Lahore, where hundreds of supporters had barricaded themselves.

“A group armed with petrol bombs and bottles filled with acidic liquid, attacked the Nawankot police post this morning,” he wrote via Twitter, Sunday (18/4), when TLP sympathizers took revenge.

A video circulating on social media shows senior police officers from the police outpost raided by TLP being held hostage. He is seen talking in front of the camera with an expressionless face.

Islamic Parties and Police Clashed in Pakistan

Islamic Parties and Police Clashed in Pakistan
Islamic Parties and Police Clashed in Pakistan

Anti-blasphemy protests

Clashes broke out over the past week, when thousands of TLP sympathizers demanded the expulsion of the French ambassador in retaliation for a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad. The government in Paris has urged its citizens in Pakistan to leave as soon as possible.

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In its action, the hardline Islamic party blockaded main roads, entrances and exits in major cities and appealed to all shops in Pakistan to close.

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At least four security forces were killed and more than 500 injured in clashes last week, when the government detained the leader of the TLP, Saad Hussain Rizvi, who is 26 years old.

TLP leaders said a number of its members were killed in clashes on Sunday (18/4). “We will not bury them until the French ambassador is expelled,” said Allama Muhammad Shafiq Amini, leader of the TLP in Lahore. They gave the government an ultimatum to release Rizvi by April 20.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has struggled to subdue the TLP’s aggression which has erupted repeatedly in recent years. When banning the party, which in the last election collected more than two million votes, Khan admitted that he was moved by the method used by the TLP, not by its ideology.

“Let me explain to citizens here and abroad, the government only bans TLP because they challenge the sovereignty of the state, by using force and by attacking law enforcement officials,” he tweeted.

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However, while he continues to criticize the publication of caricatures of the prophet, “we must not tolerate such impudent acts,” he added.

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To prevent demonstrations from flaring up, the government closed social media and short message applications for fear of being used by TLP to mobilize the masses.

Islamic Parties and Police Clashed in Pakistan.

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