Wednesday, February 15, 2006
AP: Cartoon protests kill 3 in Pakistan
By RIAZ KHAN, Associated Press Writer -- Wednesday, 52 minutes ago
PESHAWAR, Pakistan - Gunfire and rioting erupted Wednesday as tens of thousands of people took to the streets in several Pakistani cities during the country's third consecutive day of violent protests over the Prophet Muhammad cartoons. Three people were killed, including an 8-year-old boy.
Pakistani angry protestors, left, gather in a street after setting vehicles on fire during a protest against the publication of cartoons depicting Islamic prophet Muhammad in European newspapers, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2006 in Lahore, Pakistan. Throwing stones and even wielding hand guns, rioters ran amok in two Pakistani cities on Tuesday, hurling stones through the windows of the Holiday Inn and Pizza Hut, as protests over Prophet Muhammad cartoons spiraled out of control. (AP Photo/K. M. Chaudhry)
More than 70,000 people flooded the streets of the northwestern city of Peshawar, said Saeed Wazir, a senior police officer. The massive crowd went on a rampage, torching businesses and fighting police, who struck back with tear gas and batons. A bus terminal operated by Korean conglomerate Daewoo was torched, police said.
Protesters burned a KFC restaurant, three movie theaters and the offices of the main mobile phone company in the country. A Norwegian mobile phone company's offices were also ransacked. Gunfire was heard near the burning KFC, as police tried to clear people from a main street, witnesses said.
An 8-year-old boy died after being struck in the face by a bullet fired by a protester, police officer Shahid Khan said. A 25-year-old man was killed by an electric cable that was snapped by gunfire, said the man's cousin, Jehangir Khan.
At least 45 people were being treated for injuries in Peshawar's two state-run hospitals, Khan and witnesses said.
Paramilitary forces were deployed, and the government announced that schools and colleges would be closed in northwestern Pakistan for one week to protect students from violence. Authorities also announced a ban on rallies in eastern Pakistan for an indefinite period. Most shops, public transport and other businesses were also closed.
Demonstrations around Asia and the Middle East over the cartoons -- which first appeared in a Danish newspaper in September and have been reprinted by other Western newspapers -- have subsided in recent days, including in, where 11 people died in riots last week.
Many Muslims regard any depiction of the prophet as blasphemous. They reject the newspapers' explanations that the cartoons have news value and represent free speech.
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