Contingents of the Pakistan army were called out on Thursday in Islamabad when protesters ran riot and threatened to enter the city’s red zone where the diplomatic enclave is located. They were protesting against the controversial anti-Islam US film that has triggered demonstrations across the Muslim world.
The army moved in after interior minister Rehman Malik said that members of banned militant organisations had entered the capital and planned to be part of protests to be held on Friday.
Around 50 protesters and 38 police officials were injured during the riots and shifted to a local hospital. Mobile phone services will remain suspended from 9am-11pm in the country to avoid untoward incidents.
The police fired live rounds and tear gas to break up a crowd of students, many armed with wooden clubs, even as protesters managed to enter the red zone and attacked police posts. They also attacked passing cars and stoned the Serena Hotel which is located at the entrance of the diplomatic enclave.
The US embassy is 1km away from the entrance of the diplomatic enclave and there are no barriers inside. According to police officials, if the protesters, who are present at the gate of the enclave, manage to break through, it will result in chaos.
Officials say they fear that protesters may try and storm the US embassy on Friday.
Hundreds of Afghans on Thursday protested for the first time against cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published in France and staged fresh rallies against the US-made film. In Iran, students protested outside the French embassy in Tehran, shouting “Death to France, death to America”. Tunisia has banned Friday demonstrations amid Prophet cartoon anger.