Islamabad, Oct 23 (EFE).- At least nine people have died, including two police officers, and dozens of others have been injured in clashes between the Islamist Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) party and police during a march calling for the expulsion of the French ambassador in a blasphemy row.
“Our two police officers were assassinated and there are more than 80 injured by the violent TLP activists as of now,” Rana Arif, police spokesperson in Lahore, where the clashes took place, told Efe.
Hassan Khawar, TLP spokesperson, told Efe that the police killed seven members of the organization and injured hundreds of others with tear gas projectiles.
Given the severity of the unrest, Pakistan’s interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed cut short his trip to the United Arab Emirate in a bid to negotiate an end to the protests, the Punjab regional government spokesman told Efe.
TLP said on Twitter that it would not enter negotiations until the group’s leader, Saad Hussain Rizvi, was freed from prison.
Rizvi’s arrest in April sparked a wave of violent demonstrations in which four died and 800 were injured. The government banned the TLP party in the aftermath.
In November last year, Rizvi led several Islamist groups in a blockade of Islamabad in a protest against French president Emmanuel Macron after he defended the right to publish satirical images of the Prophet Mohammad after Paris school teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded by an Islamist for allegedly showing such images in his class. EFE