LAHORE: Members of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) were among the seven people killed during a clash between PAT protesters and policemen in Lahore on Tuesday.
According to initial reports, one of the deceased PAT supporters is a 16-year-old. Two women have also reportedly been killed in the skirmish, but authorities have not yet identified the deceased.
The Chief Minister of Punjab has held a meeting regarding the incident and has been briefed on the situation.
The party claimed that 12 of its supporters were killed in the skirmish, however the figure has not yet been verified by authorities.
“We received seven dead bodies including two women. All of them had bullet wounds,” said Dr. Abdul Rauf, Medical Superintendent at the city's Jinnah Hospital.
“We also received 80 injured, 40 with bullet injuries and 40 with other wounds. Two injured are critical,” he said.
Muhammad Rizwan, another member of the medical staff, confirmed that the dead bodies had been received.
Abdul Jabbar, a senior police officer, told AFP the clashes began when police went to the office of Qadri's Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), meaning 'Pakistan People's Movement', in the city's Model Town suburb on Monday night.
“The PAT activists resisted the operations which caused clashes between the protesters and police,” he said.
“We went to the area again during the morning with additional force. The PAT activists pelted stones on policemen and our force used tear gas to disperse them. We managed to complete the operation and remove the barriers despite the resistance,” he added.
A spokesman for the PAT said up to 12 workers had been killed.
“They launched this operation to counter our peaceful movement and the 'green revolution' promised by Doctor Tahir ul Qadri,” he said.
“We pelted stones to resist direct firing by police over protesters. We have information that 12 of our workers have been killed,” he added.
On Twitter, PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri condemned the government for "harassing and killing" his party workers.
"The government, gripped by fear of my arrival, is harassing PAT workers," he posted, adding that it is an oppressive step taken by the government which would pave the way for promotion of terrorism.
"Several people have been martyred and they have entered the secretariat and my house," he said.
Straight shots were reportedly fired when elite force personnel showed up to disperse PAT supporters outside the Lahore residence of PAT chief Qadri. The police were attempting to remove barriers surrounding Qadri's residence when the clash erupted.
Supporters of PAT were being rounded up by the police and being taken to a nearby station in Model Town.
Earlier, 55 people had been arrested.
|A view of a protester being arrested by police personnel. — DawnNews screengrab|
In fresh arrests, 12 more were detained. Supporters were reportedly hiding in the PAT secretariat.
As police baton-charged the protesters, they began to hurl rocks at them. Moreover, the elite force had been firing straight shots at the protesters. Moreover, injured were shifted to a nearby hospital.
Police personnel from at least 12 police stations had been called to control the clash.
There were almost 1,000 police personnel on the site of the protest, according to latest reports. Due to the blockage of roads, commuters were also facing trouble.
Earlier, several area residents had overnight protested outside Qadri’s house in the presence of a large contingent of police personnel.
The residents had been demanding the immediate removal of the barrier outside Qadri’s house in Model Town.
PAT members were sprayed with tear gas and whipped by police personnel during the clash.
Qadri condemned police action on PAT members calling it cowardly. He added that the government could not stop his arrival nor could they stop the revolution that his party would be bringing in the country.
Meanwhile, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain also condemned police action on PAT members and demanded instant clearance outside Qadri’s residence and moreover showed support for Dr Qadri by announcing the observance of a countrywide a day of mourning tomorrow.