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Pakistani Protesters Clash With Police Ahead of Bush Visit


Pakistani security forces have clashed with anti-U.S. protesters in the capital, Islamabad, ahead of President Bush's visit to the country.

Witnesses say police used batons to disperse hundreds of protesters leaving a mosque in Rawalpindi, near the capital, Friday. The demonstrators carried placards denouncing President Bush and controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

A VOA reporter in Islamabad says political parties staged rallies in all major cities to protest the cartoons but Islamic parties combined them with protests against Mr. Bush's visit. He says businesses in all major cities are shut.

Some 1,000 Islamic activists staged a protest rally in the southern port city of Karachi, where a suicide bomber on Thursday killed an American diplomat and three others outside the U.S. consulate. US federal agents have joined Pakistani investigators to probe the bombing.

Officials say security forces have spread out in areas overlooking Islamabad and commandos have taken position on rooftops around the capital.

Mr. Bush said he would not be intimidated by the attack. He said it is important that he and General Musharraf discuss continuing the fight against terrorists.

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