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Two protesters die in police firing

July 20, 2008

QUETTA, July 19: Two people were killed on Saturday in a heavy exchange of fire with police following a protest against the killing of a man in Hazara town. Thirteen others, including two policemen and a woman, were injured.

According to eyewitnesses, the gunbattle lasted more than two hours. They said that armed men had taken positions in nearby mountains during the fighting.

The people first blocked the Brewery Road and then stopped traffic on the western bypass to protest against the killing of one Ghulam Rasool by unknown attackers in Killi Karani.

They refused to end the protest despite requests by officials of the Anti-Terrorist Force (ATF) and police.

The sources said that during efforts for restoring traffic, some armed men allegedly opened fire, injuring two policemen. Police and ATF personnel returned fire. Two men, Mohammad Arif and Ali Abbas were killed.

In the meantime, contingents of ATF and Balochistan Constabulary were called to cordon off the area, forcing the protesters to vacate their positions.

Hospital sources said that Inspector Latif Changezi and an ATF constable were critically injured and were taken to the Combined Military Hospital. Although the firing stopped and the situation was stated to be “completely under control”, the area is tense. Meanwhile, Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani warned that the government would take strict action against elements creating law and order problem.

Talking to a delegation of the Hazara community, he said the government would do everything possible for maintaining peace and security in Quetta and other cities and towns in the province. “Elements creating law and order situation will not be tolerated,” Nawab Raisani said.

Expressing grief over the killing of protesters, he said that people should bring their complaints to the government. “But no one will be allowed to take law in his own hands.”

Later, the chief minister ordered law-enforcement agencies to ensure protection to people’s life and property.