QUETTA, Oct 8: A young man was killed and 26 others were wounded here on Monday when a rally condemning the US-led attack on Afghanistan turned violent.
Thousands of people took to the streets early morning, ransacked public and private property, and exchanged fire with the law enforcement agencies.
During the day-long violence, protesters torched four cinemas and a police station; attacked the UNICEF offices in the Chaman Housing Scheme, and set on fire five vehicles and three motorcycles there.
They attacked the city’s main police station, ransacked the adjacent barracks and tried to set it on fire. Also, they tried to attack the city’s only luxury hotel, Hotel Serena, where most of the foreign journalists and aid workers are staying. The police, who had already locked all the boarders inside the hotel, used baton-charge and teargas to disperse the protesters.
The crowd damaged at least a dozen branches of various banks on Kandahari Bazaar, Jinnah Road, and Liaquat Road. They ransacked one each branch of National Bank and United Bank on Iqbal Road and, according to bank sources, looted around Rs6 million from National Bank. They also tried to loot other banks but security guards resorted to aerial firing, forcing them to get away.
In the evening, protesters attacked a UBL branch on Sariab Road, ransacked it and then set it on fire. At least, half a dozen private and government vehicles, including a police van, a bus and a fire tender, were set also on fire.
The police and security personnel used teargas to disperse the crowd from various streets and roads of the city and cantonment. It was the first time that such a protest was ever held in the cantonment area.
Earlier, around 7,000 to 8,000 people, including workers and supporters of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, took out protest processions from different localities and marched through various roads, chanting anti-US slogans.
Provincial JUI chief Maulana Noor Mohammad and other leaders spoke at the rallies and condemned the US attack. They criticized the Musharraf government for siding with the US.
The mob then moved towards the main Kandahari Bazaar and Jinnah Road and in the process attacked various buildings, including bank branches. They stormed Imdad Cinema and set it on fire. Paradise and two other cinemas were also destroyed.
In some areas, protestors took positions on rooftops of various buildings and fired at the police and paramilitary troops. On Tola Ram Road, police returned the fire, resulting in killing of one person. The victim was identified as Haji Mohammad.
Sources said that 26 injured were brought to the hospital. Some of them were identified as Din Mohammad, Inayatullah, Azmir, Bahadur Khan and Naved Khan.
All markets and shopping centres remained closed throughout the day in protest against the US attack.
Police have arrested scores of people in raids in different areas.
Reports suggested that anti-US protest demonstrations were also held in Chaman, Zhob, Pishin, and Loralai.