Dead, 150 Injured After Violent Clashes Between Forces And Islamist Protesters

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Since Nov. 8, protesters have blocked a major road between Islamabad and Rawalpindi to highlight their demand for the resignation of Law and Justice Minister Zahid Hamid because of legislation that would scale back requirements for lawmakers to mention the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.

They alleged the action undermined Islamic beliefs and linked it to blasphemy. "It was not prepared by the law ministry and the law minister has not the authority to change it on his own", he clarified.

The siege played havoc with the more than half million commuters who daily travel between Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

It is worth mentioning that the government's strict decision of operation against the Faizabad protestors has backfired and protests have erupted throughout the nation.

In the morning hours, it looked that the police would clear the roads but the protesters regrouped by mid-day to re-occupy the interchange bridge, forcing the authorities to suspend the operation temporarily.

At least 139 injured people have been taken to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in Islamabad, a spokesperson from the hospital said, adding that 93 of them were members of the security forces.

At least one policeman reportedly died due head injury, but the government has so far not confirmed the death.

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TV footage showed police firing teargas shells and security personnel in riot gears charging at the protesters dozens of whom were arrested and shifted to various police stations.

The protesters in retaliation are throwing stones at the security men. The media blackout was followed by suspension of services of popular social networking sites - Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The government launched the operation because of the never-ending protests going on across the province Punjab and other cities of Pakistan. However, local police disputed the minister's claim.

They shattered windows and damaged furniture.

"If I were the prime minister then the operation would not have started and I myself should have gone there and talked to them, when Supreme Court was attacked I had done like this, said Shujaat".

The crackdown came after the country's top court ordered their removal, after protests paralyzed life in the twin cities and the last of a long series of deadlines lapsed without response from the agitating parties.

"COAS [chief of army staff] telephoned PM".

Meanwhile Islamabad's local government issued a "final notice" to protesters and organizers to end their sit-in by midnight, after which "all resources would be used to disperse this illegal sit-in".

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