21 Sep 2012

Violent protests against film continue in Pakistan

10:33 pm on 21 September 2012

Pakistani police have opened fire on rioters who were torching a cinema during a protest against an anti-Islam film, killing one man.

The man, a driver for a Pakistani television station, was killed when bullets hit his vehicle in the northwest city of Peshawar. Seven people were reported to be injured.

It happened on a holiday declared by the government so that people could demonstrate against the video.

The film denigrating the Prophet Mohammed has sparked unrest in many parts of the Muslim world over the past 10 days, and the deaths of at least 31 people, including the US ambassador to Libya, have been linked to the violence.

Pakistan has experienced nearly a week of violent rallies against the film, in which three people have died already.

Australia has closed its High Commission in the capital Islamabad because of the anti-western demonstrations.

Staff have also been advised to stay inside because of security concerns.

Public holiday for 'peaceful protest'

Tens of thousands of Pakistanis were expected to protest as global Muslim anger mounts over the US-made film, and cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a French magazine.

The Pakistani government called an impromptu public holiday - a "day of love for the prophet" - and urged people to protest peacefully to show their opposition to the crudely made film Innocence Of Muslims, the ABC reports.

All of Pakistan's major political parties and religious groups announced protests, as did many trade and transport organisations.

Security in the country is tight, with shops and businesses closed and usually busy streets deserted.

About 5000 angry protesters, many armed with wooden clubs, earlier battled police near Islamabad's heavily guarded diplomatic enclave, demanding access to the US embassy.

Police used tear gas and live rounds to disperse the crowd and the chaotic scenes left at least 50 people hurt.

Dozens of officers were wounded and a police post burnt to the ground before army troops were eventually called in to disperse the protesters, who had breached a wall of shipping containers designed to hold them back.