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Pakistan protests turn violent
Posted: Friday, September 21, 2001

Four people have died and several others have been injured in the Pakistani city of Karachi as pro-Taleban protests there turned violent.
They are the first deaths after days of protests against the Pakistan Government's decision to back the United States in its campaign against Afghanistan.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets across the country in what correspondents describe as the largest such gatherings in recent days.

But correspondents say most of the protesters appear to be supporters of religious parties who have called the nationwide strike.

Three people were shot dead in Karachi during violent demonstrators in areas dominated by Afghans.

Police used tear gas to break up several rallies as the demonstrators hurled stones and attacked shops and business establishments.

A shopkeeper was lynched to death when he tried to defy the strike call and open his shop.

Religious leaders addressed the massive crowds

In Peshawar, which borders Afghanistan, angry protesters gathered before and after Friday prayers to hear religious leaders make speeches in support of the Taleban and Osama Bin Laden.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf pledged to co-operate with Washington in trying to capture Bin Laden, who it says was behind last week's attacks in New York and Washington.

Speakers at the rallies attacked US President George W Bush's use of the word "crusade" to describe his planned war on terrorism.

"If America wants a crusade, then we are ready for a holy war," said one preacher.

In the capital Islamabad, a cleric at the Lal Masjid mosque warned President Musharraf against co-operating with the US.

"Musharraf, listen: The nation will not accept your decision, and any collaboration with the United States is treason," he said.

"The government's hasty decision doesn't enjoy support of the people," said Qazi Hussain Ahmed, chief of the Jamaat-e-Islami, the country's main religious party. MORE

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