ISLAMABAD -- A security person was killed and over 150 others were injured today in Pakistan during clashes which broke out after police and paramilitary forces launched an operation to disperse hundreds of protesters blocking main highways leading to the capital Islamabad.
The operation was launched after Islamabad High Court (IHC) yesterday issued contempt of court notice against Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal for failing to implement orders to clear the roads.
The Pakistan government has blocked popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube amidst ongoing operation against protesters. The decision was taken after almost all news channels were suspended.
Military spokesman said that army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa talked to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on telephone and urged for peaceful solution to the problem.
So far police have failed to dislodge the protesters from Faizabad interchange which they have been occupying for about three weeks.
At least one security person was killed and over 150 persons, including protesters and security personnel, were injured, police said.
About 2,000 activists of Tehreek-i-Khatm-i-Nabuwwat, Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR) and the Sunni Tehreek Pakistan (ST) for more than two weeks have been blocking the Islamabad Expressway and Murree Road that connect Islamabad with its only airport and the garrison city of Rawalpindi.
The protesters demand the resignation of law minister Zahid Hamid for changes made about Khatm-i-Nabuwwat or finality of prophethood oath in the Elections Act 2017 passed in September.
More than 70 people have been injured. They were shifted to hospital of twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, a health official said. Those injured include also more than 35 security personnel who were hit by stones thrown by protesters, the official said.
Islamabad city magistrate yesterday issued a warning to protesters to disperse by midnight or face the consequences.
TV footage showed police firing teargas and security personnel in riot gears charging at the protesters. Dozens of them were arrested and shifted to various police stations. Some of the security personnel were injured due to stone pelting by protesters. According to a security official, more than 8,000 security personnel took part in the operation against around 2,000 protesters.
The operation was still going on and police were facing stiff resistance from the protesters.
Earlier, IHC last Friday had given a 24-hour deadline to the government to clear the roads which was later extended till Thursday.
However, the court yesterday expressed strong displeasure at the government for failing to take action against the protesters.
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