Pakistan Army deployed in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan to contain violent protests

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Pakistan Army deployed in Punjab KP

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Lahore/Peshawar: Violent clashes between Imran Khan’s supporters and security forces in the last 24 hours have left at least seven people dead and nearly 300 others injured across Pakistan as the army was deployed in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces on Wednesday to maintain law and order.

At least 14 government buildings/installations were set on fire by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party supporters in Punjab province following the dramatic arrest of Khan in a corruption case on Tuesday, police said.

The law enforcement agencies have arrested 1,150 PTI supporters including women in Punjab alone so far. Two top leaders - PTI Secretary General Asad Umar, former Punjab governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema and PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi - were also arrested on Wednesday.

The situation in Lahore and several other cities of Punjab remained tense on Wednesday in the wake of the arrest of the PTI chief.

As the police failed to control the law-and-order situation in the province, the Punjab government called for the deployment of the Pakistan Army.

As many as 10 companies of the army have been requested to be deployed in the province of 120 million to control the situation. The federal government has approved deployment of the Army in Punjab.

"The protesters have set on fire 14 government installations/buildings and 21 police vehicles in Punjab. Over 130 officials and officers of the security agencies have been wounded. Police arrested 1,150 miscreants during their clashes with the security agencies and causing damage to the state property," the Punjab police said in a statement.

The police said those who set the government installations on fire are being identified through video footage and strict action will be taken against them.

According to the Khan's party, one person has been killed each in Lahore, Faisalabad and Burewala cities of Punjab. It said over 150 protesters have been injured in Punjab alone.

Lahore, the provincial capital of Punjab, remained virtually cut off from the rest of the country because of protest demonstrations of the PTI workers on all its main roads.

On Tuesday, the protesters had set ablaze the Corps Commander's house in Lahore after ransacking it. They also pelted stones at the Governor's House and attacked the ruling PML-N headquarters in Lahore, torching the vehicles parked over there.

In footage circulating on different social media platforms, Khan's supporters were seen carrying clubs and party flags as they arrived at the Corps Commander's house in the Cantonment area. They broke the main gate of the Corps Commander's house. Video footage circulating on social media showed Khan’s supporters breaking window panes, TVs and furniture of the house and also setting trees and furniture on fire.

In another video, protesters were seen pelting stones and bottles at an army convoy on the Mall Road, Lahore.

In Peshawar, at least four persons were killed and 27 others injured in clashes between protestors and police, a spokesperson of Lady Reading Hospital confirmed.

Protestors also set fire to the building of state-run Radio Pakistan, causing severe damage to the studios, auditorium and other facilities, Director General Radio Pakistan Peshawar Tahir Hassan told the media.

The office of Associated Press of Pakistan located in the building was ransacked and damaged.

In Islamabad, the protestors clashed with police and the Srinagar Highway linking the national capital with its international airport remained blocked for several hours.

IG Islamabad Akbar Nasir Khan told the media that at least five police personnel were injured.

"We are trying our best to maintain peace and disperse the miscreants,” he said.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and Islamabad also called in the army as violence spread.

In Sindh, the government imposed Section 144 to control the situation.

Police informed Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah that around 270 people were arrested in the province.

Special Assistance to PM Atta Tarar told the media that no one was allowed to damage the state property. "Now action will be taken. The miscreants are being identified through CCTV cameras. Everyone will be arrested,” he said.

PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry asked his supporters to remain peaceful, saying that efforts were underway to portray the party as a violent party. "I want to tell our workers to keep the protests peaceful and defeat the conspiracy to bring the army and public face to face,” he tweeted.

"This country is ours and so is the army,” Fawad said.

Khan was taken into custody by the paramilitary Rangers on Tuesday on the orders of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) from the premises of the Islamabad High Court where he came to attend a corruption case hearing.