Police said they launched a security operation after a far-right group took six security officers hostage in Lahore.
Pakistani police said a far-right group held six security officers hostage at their Lahore headquarters on Sunday after a week of violent clashes following the arrest of the group’s leader.
The Pakistani government banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP) Pakistan earlier this week after supporters took to the streets to protest the arrest of their leader, Muslim scholar Saad Rizvi.
“Today early in the morning, scammers attacked the Nawankot police station where [paramilitary] The rangers and police officers were trapped inside the police station and [Deputy Superintendent] Nawankot [was] kidnapped, ”reads a statement from the provincial police in Punjab, where Lahore is the capital.
The statement said the attackers were equipped with petrol bombs and stole a tank truck carrying 50,000 liters of gasoline.
A senior policeman and two paramilitary personnel were among the six held by TLP supporters, police spokesman Lahore Arif Rana told Reuters news agency.
Police said they had launched a security campaign against the group in response to the attack.
Pakistan’s news channels have been barred from providing information about the group since it was banned, and on Sunday mobile and internet services were shut down in the area where the clashes took place.
Speaking at media in the capital Islamabad, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed said the situation in Lahore was “tense”, with an operation focused on the Yateem Khana crossroads, about one kilometer (0.6 miles). miles) from a regional headquarters building TLP.
TLP supporters shared a video on social media of what they said was clashing with police on Sunday, and the pro group hashtag has been in vogue in Pakistan on Sunday.
Videos, which Reuters cannot independently verify, show thousands of protesters clashing with police in riot-proof clothing, as clouds of tear gas hover in the air and gunshots rattle.
TLP spokesman Shafiq Amini told Reuters that four supporters were killed on Sunday and several others were injured in the violence.
At least four people were killed, hundreds were injured and thousands were arrested in the days since Rizvi’s arrest.
TLP leader urged the government to respect what he said was the pledge it made in February with his party. expelled the French envoy about publishing in France descriptions of the Muslim prophet.
The government says it is only committed to discussing this issue in Parliament.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Saturday the group was banned because it “challenges state policy”.
“Our government only takes action against TLP under our anti-terrorism law when they challenge state policy and use street violence and attack the public and law enforcement. law, ”he posted on Twitter.
Let me be clear to everyone here and abroad: Our government only takes action against the TLP under our anti-terrorism laws when they challenge the government of the state and use violence. street & attack public & law enforcement. No one can stand above the law and the Constitution.
– Imran Khan (mImranKhanPTI) April 17, 2021
Last week, France warned its citizens to leave Pakistan temporarily.
Founded in 2017 by fire Muslim leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the TLP supports all those deemed blasphemous against Islam to be killed.
Since 1990, at least 78 people have been killed in mob violence and intentional attacks linked to blasphemy allegations in Pakistan, according to an Al Jazeera inventory.
The TLP has been banned under anti-terrorism law, with the government also beginning a process for the country’s Election Commission to eliminate its status as a political party.
Al Jazeera digital correspondent Asad Hashim in Pakistan contributed to this report. He tweeted @AsadHashim.