400 injured in Islamabad protest clashes

August 31, 2014 - 6:32:11 pm

ISLAMABAD: More than 400 people were wounded in clashes between police and protesters in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad, hospital officials said Sunday, as a fortnight-long political impasse took a violent turn.

The violence, which began late Saturday and continued early Sunday, erupted after around 25,000 people marched from parliament to the prime minister’s house, where some attempted to remove barricades around it.

Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Islamabad police chief Khalid Khattak said that police exercised restraint but the protesters were armed with axes, wire cutters and hammers.

The protesters, led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairperson Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Tahirul Qadri, had been camped outside parliament house since August 15 demanding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif quit amid allegations of vote rigging.

The crisis took on a new dimension earlier in the week after the government asked the powerful army to mediate, raising fears the military would use the situation to enact a "soft coup" and increase its dominance over civilian authorities. (QNA)