Deadly film protests in Pakistan

At least 19 people have died as violent
protests erupted on the streets of Pakistan's
main cities in anger at an anti-Islam film
made in the US.
Fourteen people were killed in the port city of
Karachi and a further five died in the north-western
city of Peshawar, hospital officials said.
Protesters clashed with police outside the
diplomatic enclave in the capital, Islamabad, near
the US embassy.
There has been widespread unrest over the amateur
film, Innocence of Muslims.
Dozens of people have been reported wounded and
BBC correspondents said some were in a critical
Protests have already left several people dead
around the world, including Pakistan, where the
government had appealed in advance for peaceful
protests, declaring a holiday and "day of love" for
the Prophet Muhammad.
Although US targets have borne the brunt of protests
against the film, anti-Western sentiment has been
stoked further by caricatures of the Prophet
Muhammad published this week in the satirical
French magazine, Charlie Hebdo.
France shut embassies and other missions in around
20 countries across the Muslim world on Friday.
Protests were banned in France itself and in Tunisia,
where France is the former colonial power, but there
were widespread demonstrations elsewhere.
A peaceful protest took place outside the US
embassy in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur
Some 3,000 people marched in the southern
Iraqi city of Basra
Thousands burned US and French flags in the
Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka
Crowds rallied in Baalbek in Lebanon in a protest
organised by the Shia militant group, Hezbollah,
burning US and Israeli flags
Thousands of Libyans joined a march in
Benghazi against Islamist militia who have been
blamed for an attack in which the US
ambassador and three other American officials
were killed
Cinemas ransacked
But it was in Pakistan's major cities that protesters
took to the streets in big numbers and tried to
march on US diplomatic buildings.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that "all
governments have the duty, the solemn duty, to
defend diplomatic missions", AFP news agency
The worst of the violence took place in the country's
biggest city, Karachi, and the north-western city of
Peshawar, close to Pakistan's lawless tribal belt.
Police in Karachi fired live bullets in the air to
disperse crowds after a large rally that had begun
peacefully turned violent. Several cinemas and
banks were set on fire and there were reports of
When police tried to stop the protesters heading to
the US consulate, there were reports of gunfire from
the crowd and a policeman was killed.
Health officials said the bodies of dead protesters
were taken to two hospitals.
In Peshawar, protesters ransacked cinemas and a
driver for Pakistan's ARY TV was killed when police
opened fire on the crowd.
In the capital, Islamabad, which saw its first clashes
between protesters and security forces on Thursday,
a police checkpoint was burnt as demonstrators
tried to breach the "red zone" where the main
embassies and government offices are based.
Police used live rounds and tear gas as the crowd
swelled to thousands of people.
The BBC's Aleem Maqbool said the focal point of
people's anger was the US embassy and he had
seen more people injured in one hour than all of
In Lahore, protesters toppled over shipping
containers that police had placed on the road to
block access to the US consulate.
Phones suspended
The low-budget film that has prompted the unrest
was made in the US and is said to insult the Prophet
Its exact origins are unclear and the alleged
producer for the trailer of the film, Nakoula Basseley
Nakoula, is in hiding.
Anti-US sentiment grew after a trailer for the film
dubbed into Arabic was released on YouTube earlier
this month.
US citizens have been urged not to travel to
Pakistan and the US embassy has paid for adverts
on Pakistani TV showing President Barack Obama
and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemning
the film.
Mobile phone services had been suspended in many
of the biggest cities to limit the potential for
violence but critics questioned the Pakistani
government's decision to declare a public holiday.
Government security adviser Rehman Malik told the
BBC that the public holiday was the right decision
and the protests would have gone ahead regardless.
"Imagine if I had not done the holiday, school would
open, shops would open, the transport was on the
road. Who could have handled it?" he said.

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