Police said they launched a security operation after a right-wing group took six security personnel hostage in Lahore.
Pakistani police said a right-wing group took six security personnel hostage at its headquarters in Lahore on Sunday after a week of heavy clashes following the arrest of the group’s leader.
Pakistani government banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP) Pakistan earlier this week after the supporters took to the streets to protest the arrest of their leader, the Muslim scholar Saad Rizvi.
“Today, early in the morning, criminals attacked the Nawankot police station where [paramilitary] Rangers and policemen were trapped inside the police station and [Deputy Superintendent] Nawankot [was] kidnapped ”, we read in a statement from the provincial police of Punjab, of which Lahore is the capital.
According to the statement, the attackers were armed with petrol bombs and stole a tanker truck carrying 50,000 liters of petrol.
A senior police officer and two paramilitary personnel were among six detained by TLP supporters, Lahore police spokesman Arif Rana told Reuters news agency.
Police said they launched a security operation against the group in response to the attack.
Pakistani news channels have been banned from covering the group since it was banned, and mobile and internet services were down in the area where clashes were taking place on Sunday.
Speaking to media in the capital, Islamabad, Home Secretary Sheikh Rasheed said the situation in Lahore was “tense”, with an operation centered on the Yateem Khana intersection, about a kilometer away ( 0.6 mile) from a regional TLP headquarters.
TLP supporters shared videos on social media of what they called Sunday clashes with police, and hashtags supporting the group were all the rage in Pakistan on Sunday.
The videos, which Reuters could not independently verify, showed thousands of protesters clashing with police in riot gear, as clouds of tear gas hung in the air and the crackle of gunshots. fire could be heard.
TLP spokesman Shafiq Amini told Reuters four supporters were killed on Sunday and several others were injured in the violence.
At least four people were killed, hundreds injured and thousands arrested in the days following Rizvi’s arrest.
TLP leader called on government to honor what he said was a commitment he made to his party in February to expel the French envoy on the publication in France of representations of the prophet of Islam.
The government has said it is only committed to discussing the issue in parliament.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Saturday that the group had been banned because it “challenged the state’s mandate.”
“Our government only took action against the TLP under our anti-terrorism law when it challenged the state’s mandate and used street violence and attacked the public and law enforcement,” he said. he posted on Twitter.
Let me make it clear to people here and abroad: Our government only took action against the TLP under our anti-terrorism law when it challenged the state’s mandate and used street violence and attacked the public and the police. No one can be above the law and the Constitution.
– Imran Khan (mImranKhanPTI) April 17, 2021
France last week advised its citizens to temporarily leave Pakistan.
Formed in 2017 by the late Muslim leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the TLP advocates that all those deemed to have committed blasphemy against Islam be killed.
Since 1990, at least 78 people have been killed in popular violence and targeted attacks linked to blasphemy charges in Pakistan, according to an Al Jazeera tally.
The TLP was banned under anti-terrorism legislation, with the government also launching a process that would see it struck off the list of political parties by the country’s electoral commission.
Al Jazeera digital correspondent Asad Hashim in Pakistan contributed to this report. He tweets @AsadHashim.