Pakistan Rioters Burn KFC, Pizza Hut, and McDonald’s
In further violence ostensibly reacting to cartoons of Muhammad published in a Danish newspaper, thousands of Pakistan rioters burned down a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise and vandalized numerous other Western businesses ranging from Holiday Inn to McDonald’s. At least two people were killed and several others injured.
Thousands of protesters rampaged through two cities Tuesday, storming into a diplomatic district and torching Western businesses and a provincial assembly in Pakistan’s worst violence against the Prophet Muhammad drawings, officials said. At least two people were killed and 11 injured. Security forces fired into the air as they struggled to contain the unrest in the eastern city of Lahore, where protesters burned down four buildings housing a hotel, two banks, a KFC restaurant and the office of a Norwegian cell phone company, Telenor.
U.S. and British embassy staffers were confined to their compounds until police dispersed the protesters, some of whom chanted, “Death to America!”
Witnesses said rioters also damaged more than 200 cars, dozens of shops and a large portrait of President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Vandals broke the windows of a Holiday Inn, Pizza Hut and McDonald’s. Two movie theaters were torched, and clouds of tear gas and black smoke from burning vehicles outside Citibank and Metropolitan Bank branches drifted through streets in the city center.
A security guard shot and killed two protesters trying to force their way into a bank, Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao said, adding that paramilitary forces were deployed to restore order. Mohammed Tariq, a doctor at the state-run Mayo Hospital, said three people were being treated for serious bullet wounds, and eight more suffered injuries during clashes with police.
The protest was organized by a little-known religious group supported by local trade associations and one of the main Islamic schools in the city. Intelligence officials, however, suspected that members of outlawed Islamic radical groups may have incited the violence.
Two Pakistanis were shot dead today and dozens injured as Pakistan witnessed its worst day of protests against the cartoons satirizing the Prophet Muhammad with violence flared in two cities.
Demonstrations have continued in Pakistan for weeks over the cartoons, first published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Postern last year, that angered Muslims around the world. Pakistan has a history of violent protests against any act of blasphemy, but until today the rallies here were relatively peaceful.
Two people were shot dead by the security guards of a bank in Lahore. “Bank authorities allege that the protesters were trying to force their way into the bank,” Mr. Ilahi said.
While the cartoons have appeared in European newspapers, demonstrators here vented their anger over the United States as well, for its perceived anti-Muslim polices. Geo, a private television channel, showed the footage of a group of protesters chanting “Bush Dog” and “Down with Bush” before proceeding to smash vehicles and stores.
Protesters across Pakistan have demanded that the government sever its ties to the countries where cartoons have appeared and to expel the ambassadors of Denmark and Norway. And once again they have criticized President Musharraf’s decision to support the United States in its war on terror. Islamist parties have called for a nationwide strike on March 3.
Update 2: Cam Edwards wonders why this story is getting so much less play than Vice President Cheney’s hunting mishap.
Michelle Malkin has more photos and press roundups.
Gateway Pundit notes an escalation of the cartoon-vs-cartoon battle to Germany and Iran.
See the twelve cartoons that sparked the protests in full size at my Danish Muslim Cartoons page.
Related stories below the fold.
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