Pakistani police have fired teargas and used batons to repel over 1,000 protesters trying to march on the US Embassy in Islamabad. Official Mohammed Iqbal says the protesters are mainly students.
Eight police officers have already been reported as injured.
The US embassy in Islamabad is located in an enclave that houses several government offices. Police used shipping containers in an attempt to block access to the enclave. The British and French embassies are also located on the premises.
“Demonstrators tried to enter some embassies, but they were stopped by police, who have called for reinforcements from the Rangers and the army because [the protests] were out of the control of the police,” said RT Arabic correspondent Tariq Mohiyuddin.
AFP reported that Police have fired live ammunition in the air in an attempt to disperse the crowd, and that some students are armed with wooden clubs.
“I was ordered by my boss to disperse the crowd and that is why I had to open live fire, but the aim was nearby trees and not the demonstrators,” Zaman Khan, a police officer deployed at the protest said.
The live fire reportedly scattered the protestors temporarily, but they soon returned, pelting the police with stones.
Protesters also tried to break down barriers belonging to the Islamabad Serena Hotel, which is inside the “Red Zone,” where the embassies are located.
“I’m looking out the window right now and there are a lot of people outside….the police have blocked them off. They were trying to get in, because we are part of the red zone,” the hotel’s corporate public relations manager told RT.
“Now they’ve diverted their attention to the other areas. The police are here…and I hear that they’ve called the army. So hopefully things will get under control soon,” she said.
But it seems demonstrators don’t plan on ending the protests until they make their way inside the US embassy once and for all.
“Tomorrow is the big show….it’s Friday and the government in Pakistan has announced a national holiday…the protesters told me that tomorrow they will try to break in arrangements and enter the diplomatic area to reach the American embassy,” Mohiyuddin said.
The US government has warned against all non-essential travel to Pakistan in light of the violence.
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