Pakistan police killed in Lahore clashes with banned group

Battles with extremists blocking main road into the city have been continuing since Friday

Three police officers have been killed and 70 others wounded in clashes at a rally held by a proscribed extremist group in Lahore.

Clashes erupted on Wednesday between Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) near the city and police in Punjab who were sent to the area said rioters used automatic weapons, local police told AFP.

Eight of the wounded were in critical condition, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed told reporters. He said paramilitary troops from Punjab would help to manage the situation for the next 60 days.

A police spokesman said, "TLP activists used SMG, AK 47 and pistols", as a result of which several "police officials" were killed.

Initial reports said 25 police were killed but the toll of those injured rose quickly and at least 70 were on Wednesday evening confirmed as wounded.

The group said several of its activists were killed or wounded.

Thousands of TLP members have been blocking Pakistan's busiest road since Friday, demanding the release of their leader and the expulsion of France's ambassador, amid a continuing row over depictions of the Prophet Mohammed.

French President Emmanuel Macron waded into the debate last year, when he said that any depiction was not government policy but freedom of expression should be upheld. He also said that he “respected” Muslims who were offended by the issue.

After negotiations with the Pakistani government failed, the demonstrators began marching towards the capital Islamabad on Wednesday.

Police said they tried to block the march, which triggered the clashes.

Updated: October 27th 2021, 4:38 PM