Islamabad, Apr 18 (EFE).- At least 11 police officers were injured and five taken hostage in the Pakistani city of Lahore on Sunday during clashes between security forces and a recently-banned Islamist group following a week of violent protests.
The far-right Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) group said three of its members had been killed and another 20 injured, figures that have not been confirmed by the authorities.
“The situation is very tense at Yateem Khana Chawk and around Lahore,” Rana Arif, Lahore police spokesman, told Efe over the phone while gunshots could be heard in the background.
“Today at 8:42 miscreants from banned TLP attacked Nawankot Police station where they attacked, injured and abducted the Deputy Superintendent of police and four other police officials.”
He added that 11 police officers were injured during the operation to arrest the TLP members.
A spokesman for the Islamist group, Ali Raza, told Efe that the unrest was prompted by police action.
“The clash started when police launched an operation to clear the Yateem Khana Chawk area (of Lahor),” he said. “Police started using force and fired straight shots on the protesters. As a result, three workers are martyred and more than 20 injured.
“We will bury their dead bodies when the French ambassador is expelled from the country and our agreement with the government is implemented.”
Violent protests have gripped Pakistan this week following the arrest of TLP leader Saad Rizvi. The group is calling on the Pakistani government to expel the French ambassador and cut ties with France as part of a fallout triggered by a debate about the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.
Thousands of TLP members blocked roads up and down the country, paralyzing transport in some areas. At least three people have been killed and almost 600 injured so far in the unrest.