Posts tagged Pakistan
Muslim terror update worldwide
Pakistani officials say at least 15 people have been killed and more than 160 wounded in clashes between police and people protesting a film that denigrates Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.
Officials at two different hospitals, Seemi Jamali and Aftab Channar, say 12 were killed and 82 wounded Friday in the southern port city of Karachi.
Police official Bashir Khan says three others were killed and 61 wounded in the northwest city of Peshawar. Hospital official Tanveer Malik says 25 people were wounded in the capital, Islamabad.
The first confirmed death was Mohammad Amir, a driver for a Pakistani television station, was killed when bullets hit his vehicle in the northwest city of Peshawar, said Kashif Mahmood, a reporter for ARY TV who was also sitting in the car at the time.
Security forces clashed with demonstrators in several other cities in Pakistan on a holiday declared by the government so people could rally against the anti-Islam video.
Thousands of people protested in several other countries, some of them burning American flags and effigies of President Barack Obama.
Pakistan has experienced nearly a week of violent rallies against the film in which three people have died. The government declared Friday to be a national holiday – ‘Love for the Prophet Day’ – and encouraged people to protest peacefully.
As in past days, most of the protests were led by hardline Islamist groups, and the turnout was relatively small given Pakistan’s population of 190 million people. At least five protesters were hurt, a doctor at the city’s main hospital said. The ARY television station said an employee had been killed.
The cinema where police opened fire was one of two in Peshawar that several hundred protesters ransacked and set ablaze. They also torched the city’s chamber of commerce. Police beat back demonstrators with batons and firing tear gas and bullets.
In Peshawar, at least 11 people were wounded, including four who were shot, said police officer Imtiaz Khan. They included eight protesters and three policemen.
Near the capital, Islamabad, protesters set fire to a motorway toll booth. The previous day, about 1,000 stone-throwing protesters clashed with police as they tried to force their way to the U.S. embassy.
The government shut down mobile phone services in more than a dozen cities as part of security arrangements ahead of protests expected on Friday to prevent militants from using phones to detonate bombs.
An Interior Ministry official says the service is blocked in at least 15 cities, including Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. The service is scheduled to be resumed at 6pm local time.
Though there were no reports of bombs in Pakistan, Thai firemen and rescue workers try to put off the fire caused by the blast of a bomb hidden in a pickup truck in Saiburi district of Pattani province, southern Thailand. Suspected Muslim insurgents have detonated a car bomb in Thailand’s violence-prone south, killing five people and wounding a dozen others.
In a bid to tamp down public rage over the anti-Islam film, the American embassy in Islamabad is spending $70,000 to air an ad on Pakistani television that features President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton denouncing the video.
The advertisement comes as more protests are planned in Muslim countries across the globe, with a ‘special day of love’ for the Prophet Mohammed scheduled in Pakistan.
Officials in the country are bracing themselves for potentially violent protests, blocking all cell phone service in major cities to prevent militants from using phones to detonate bombs.
The anger is not limited to Pakistan or the Innocence of Muslims film, as the Iranian president has lashed out at the West over an anti-Islam film produced in the United States and the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad by a French satirical weekly.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at a military parade that ‘in return for (allowing) the ugliest insults to the divine messenger, they – the West – raise the slogan of respect for freedom of speech.’ Ahmadinejad asserted that this shows a double standard and ‘is clearly a deception.’
The protests stem from the anger caused by the American-made film which have left at least 30 people dead, including two in Pakistan.
The U.S. and French embassies were closed on Friday in Jakarta, capital of Indonesia, which has the world’s biggest Muslim population, and diplomatic missions in the Afghan capital, Kabul, were on lock-down. source – Daily Mail UK
Innocence of Muslims
At least one person has died as demonstrations against an anti-Islam video erupt across Pakistan, a day after protesters tried to storm the US embassy in the capital, Islamabad.
Angry demonstrators set fire to two cinemas in the northwestern city of Peshawar, police and witnesses said on Friday, as the country began a day of protests.
One protester was wounded when a cinema guard opened fire as crowds armed with clubs and bamboo poles converged on the Firdaus picture house, “smashing it up and setting furniture ablaze”, according to Gohar Ali, a police officer.
Witnesses said a separate rampaging crowd stormed the Shama cinema, notorious locally for showing films considered to be pornographic.
Tens of thousands of Pakistanis were expected to take to the streets across the country after the government called an impromptu public holiday to let people protest.
Police on alert
The protests followed clashes on Thursday as security forces used tear gas and live rounds to disperse protesters close to the US embassy in Islamabad.
“Thousand of people have already gathered and more are expected to join in the next half an hour as Friday prayers conclude across the city,” Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder reported from the city on Friday.
“The most important thing here will be whether these protesters are able to get close to the diplomatic area as they did yesterday in battles with the police. “The military have taken their position and the police are on alert. They will be trying to avoid a situation like yesterday from happening again.”
In Karachi, police told AFP news agency they were on maximum alert and that bomb-disposal squads were sweeping planned locations of protests.
“All the entry and exit points of the city are heavily guarded. Helicopters are on stand-by for aerial surveillance,” Fayyaz Laghari, provincial police chief, said.
“We have deployed our maximum police force to the sensitive parts of the city to ensure security during protest rallies today.”
Friday was designated a “day of expression of love for the prophet” by the government, which called for peaceful protests against the Innocence of Muslims video produced in the US.
All the major political parties and religious groups announced protests, as did many trade and transport organisations. Large crowds were expected to turn out after Friday prayers.
The previous day, the US embassy became the latest target of protesters angry at the YouTube video. The total number of protesters touched 5,000 with the arrival of protesters carrying the flags of anti-American Islamist groups.
At least 50 people were injured as police fired tear gas and live rounds towards the crowds. source – Al Jazeera
The BBC’s Aleem Maqbool in Islamabad says “the entire area is cloaked in tear gas”
The Pakistani authorities had earlier called on the army as police struggled to contain the crowd of thousands with tear gas and live rounds. Some protesters had said they would not leave the diplomatic enclave until the US embassy was on fire.
Protests over the film, Innocence of Muslims, have claimed several lives
It was made in the US and is said to insult the Prophet Muhammad. Streets leading to the enclave, where most of the embassies are housed, were earlier blocked off by shipping containers in an effort to increase security.
Television pictures showed chaotic scenes as police tried to gain control of the situation.
Protesters burned an effigy of US President Barack Obama and threw missiles at the police.
One demonstrator told reporters: “The infidel who produced the movie should be hanged, or hand over him to the Muslims. And we don’t want any (US) diplomat or embassy in Pakistan: all relations should be cut off.”
The BBC’s Aleem Maqbool in Islamabad, who did not see any evidence of the army at the scene, said the protest was “turned out like a light”. He said it was amazing, given the strength of feeling at the the protest earlier, that the crowd left as peacefully as it did.
He says the area is still shrouded in tear gas.
A demonstration in the same area on Wednesday saw around 500 protesters gather outside the gates of the enclave. The US State Department earlier issued a warning against any non-essential travel to Pakistan.
It also “strongly urged” US citizens in Pakistan to avoid protests and large gatherings.
Anti-US sentiment has been growing since people became aware of the amateur film earlier this month. The US Ambassador to Libya was killed in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, on 11 September. Protests in countries around the world then took place.
Tensions with the West have been further inflamed by the publication by a French magazine of obscene cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad on Wednesday. The Pakistani government has called a national holiday on Friday to enable people to demonstrate peacefully. source – BBC
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — One person was killed and dozens of people were injured when anti-American protesters tried to storm the American Consulate in the southern port city of Karachi and clashed for several hours with the police and paramilitary troops on Sunday evening, rescue workers and police officials said.
The outbreak of violence came after days of peaceful demonstrations in Pakistan against the release of a video mocking the Prophet Muhammad. Pakistani officials had increased security in all major cities before Friday Prayer services, which have in the past served as flash points for protests, and until Sunday, calm had prevailed. The American Embassy heresaid in a message posted Sunday evening on Twitter that “all American personnel are safe and accounted for at U.S. Consulate, Karachi.”
“The United States government has absolutely nothing to do with this video,” another Twitter message by the American Embassy said. “We reject its content and its message.”
Karachi is Pakistan’s commercial capital, and the sprawling city is frequently torn by ethnic and sectarian violence. “Things usually get out of hand in Karachi,” Mehreen Zahra-Malik, an assistant editor at The News International, said in an interview.
The demonstration on Sunday was spearheaded by two groups of Shiites, a minority in Pakistan, which had urged demonstrators to march “toward” the American Consulate.
The police responded by blocking the road that leads to the American Consulate with concrete barriers and shipping containers on Sunday afternoon. Then, as the march neared, the police fired tear gas canisters into the crowd. That failed to contain waves of angry demonstrators, who grew increasingly agitated, witnesses said.
The police and Rangers, a force controlled by the Interior Ministry, then fired shots into the air as demonstrators rushed through the clouds of tear gas, trying to reach the outer boundary wall of the heavily fortified consulate building. Water cannons were also used on the protesters, who began hurling stones.
Local television broadcast images of young men falling on the roadside after being struck by water jets. One young man ran toward a police officer, who was firing warning shots in the air, and flung his arms open, daring the officer to shoot at his chest.
After battling for a few hours without entering the consulate property, the protesters dispersed. They later assembled in the Numaish Chowrangi neighborhood and staged a sit-in. Local news media reported that the demonstrators had set at least four police vehicles on fire.
Mirza Yousuf Hussain, the leader of one of the two Shiite groups that organized the protest, claimed that violence had broken out in Karachi after police opened fire on “peaceful protesters.” He said in a statement that police fire had killed the brother of the deputy secretary general of his party’s Karachi chapter. He also said two wounded workers were in critical condition. He accused high-ranking police officers of “working to protect American interests.”
In the eastern city of Lahore, thousands of protesters took part in a demonstration led by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the leader of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is accused of orchestrating the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. While the protest remained peaceful, the fiery speeches were filled with anger as protesters gathered at the Mall, about half a mile from the American Consulate in Lahore.
Mr. Saeed said in his speech that the production crew of the video “must be hanged to set an example.”
Protesters held placards and shouted slogans against the United States government. One placard read, “O Obama, we are all Osama.” Another placard read, “Blasphemy is not freedom of expression, and its sentence is death.” source – NY Times
China missile sales
Newly released classified documents reveal China’s continued violations of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) with sales of missiles and parts to Iran, Syria and Pakistan. A Sept. 18, 2009, State Department cable on the issue was prepared for an international meeting of the MTCR that year in Rio de Janeiro. The MTCR is an informal association of 34 states that seeks to limit exports of missiles with ranges greater than 185 miles and warheads heavier than 1,000 pounds.
Sent under Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s signature, the cable included a report on Chinese missile proliferation that on three occasions referred to a “lack of political will” by China to stop missile transfers.
“Chinese authorities and firms fail to conduct sufficient evaluations of missile-applicable transactions or to take steps to know their customers,” the report said.
Several cables, labelled “secret,” were made public on Monday by the anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks, showing Chinese violations or circumventions of the accord.
“Other firms that are aware of the vulnerabilities in China’s export-control system take steps to conceal sensitive transactions and avoid detection, including by adopting new names and falsifying shipping documentation. Additionally, some firms may take advantage of government connections to skirt Chinese regulations,” the cable said.
Among the violations were sales to Iran by China’s Dalian Sunny Industries, also known as LIMMT; sales of ballistic-missile goods to Syria; and transfers by Shanghai Technical By-Products International Corp. to Iran of ballistic-missile items.
Sanctions were imposed on two Chinese firms in 2009: LIMMT for sales of graphite, tungsten, gyroscopes and accelerometers; and Bellamax for steel alloys, gyroscopes and ball bearings.
Chinese authorities apparently do not control missile exports because of too much reliance on “foreign tips” and a reluctance to impose “catch-all” controls, the cable said.
One Chinese official was quoted as saying such controls are “not meant to catch everything.” Another Chinese official was quoted as warning U.S. officials to back off pressuring Beijing because “China’s business is its own business.” source – Washington Times
The ever-shrinking field of American allies
Pakistan has asked China to build a naval base at its south-western port of Gwadar and expects the Chinese navy to maintain a regular presence there, a plan likely to alarm both India and the US.
“We have asked our Chinese brothers to please build a naval base at Gwadar,” Chaudhary Ahmed Mukhtar, Pakistan’s defence minister, told the Financial Times, confirming that the request was conveyed to China during a visit last week by Yusuf Raza Gilani, Pakistan’s prime minister. Hitherto, China has shied away from moves that might alienate the US and Beijing’s neighbours, such as India, Malaysia and Indonesia. “China’s rise is a beneficial force for peace and we have no hegemonic ambitions,” said a Chinese official familiar with Beijing’s security policy.
“This will definitely be a ‘game changer’ in China’s defence and security relationships,” said Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, a south Asia security expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. “The construction of a naval base in Gwadar would provide its own ships and possibly submarines with ‘permanent’ basing rights, along with the possibility of regular patrols and exercises in the Arabian Sea to protect the growing number of Chinese-flagged oil tankers traversing the region to meet its increasing energy demands from the Gulf region.” source – FT.com
Buildup to war
New satellite images have shown the alarming speed at which Pakistan is constructing a weapons-grade nuclear reactor. The aerial images, taken on April 20, show the rapid building progress of the fourth reactor to produce plutonium in Pakistan’s Khushab facility.
The site was barren in 2009 and the facility ‘costing billions’ was undetectable by satellite just 17 months ago, but has since grown at an alarming rate. The facility in Khushab is the fastest growing nuclear program in the world, with the speed of the latest reactor’s construction prompting concern from U.S. officials.
Pakistan first revealed the Khushab site and its plutonium production facility in 1998 after the country’s first nuclear test. Although the U.S. has provided Pakistan with $20 billion in military and economic aid since September 11, 2001, it has been said that there is ‘no explanation’ as to how Pakistan are paying for the latest reactor.
Paul Brannon, a nuclear analyst with the Institute for Science and International Security, said: ‘The buildup is remarkable.
‘You can see the square of the reactor building, you can see the inner square of the reactor hall where the actual reactor goes, and if you measure the dimensions of the building it matches up exactly to the second and the third reactors. ‘And that nobody in the U.S. or in the Pakistani government says anything about this — especially in this day and age—is perplexing.’ source – Daily Mail