11 policemen abducted by from anti-France protests released
ISLAMABAD (PAKISTAN ) – The interior minister of Pakistan, Sheikh Rashid Ahmad has informed that Islamist radicals in Pakistan have released 11 policemen abducted during violent anti-blasphemy protests against France over the weekend, after government opened negotiations with the group. “They’ve released the 11 policemen they had held hostage,” he said in a video statement.
The police were kidnapped during clashes outside the TLP’s headquarters in the eastern city of Lahore. Three TLP members were killed during the violence, according to the Islamists. Photographs of the police, with their heads, legs and arms heavily bandaged, were posted on social media by their captors.
All main businesses, markets and shopping malls and public transport were closed in major cities in response to a strike call by the Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), prompting the main KSE-100 stock index to open more than 500 points lower.
“There have been two rounds of the talks, and there will be another later in the evening,” Religious Affairs Minister Noor-ul-Haq Qadri told parliament. “We believe in negotiations and reconciliation to sort out issues.”
The violence erupted after the government detained the TLP leader, Saad Hussain Rizvi, ahead of a planned countrywide anti-France campaign to pressure the government to expel the French ambassador in response to the publication of cartoons in France last year depicting the Prophet Mohammad.
France has advised its citizens to leave Pakistan temporarily.