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8 Killed in Clashes with Police in Pakistan

  • VOA News

At least eight people are dead and more than 80 wounded in Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore after police clashed with followers of a Muslim cleric critical of the Pakistani government.

The cleric, Tahir-ul-Qadri, lives in Canada but is scheduled to return to Pakistan on June 23 to rally against the government.

Tuesday's clashes erupted when police tried to move barricades set up by Qadri's supporters outside his home and administrative office.

Local officials say the followers of Qadri's Pakistan Awami Tehreek party, or PAT, threw stones at police and fired bullets. Qadri's people and at least one reporter at the scene say police fired tear gas at the protesters and charged at them with batons. Qadri supporters also accuse police of firing bullets.

Qadri condemned the police action and said officials cannot stop the revolution his party is launching. The cleric -- considered a religious moderate -- says the government should do more to improve the daily lives of Pakistanis.

Last year, Qadri led tens of thousands of supporters in street protests to demand the dissolution of the government.

Some analysts have questioned whether Pakistan's powerful military might be supporting the cleric against civilian authorities. But Qadri has denied any link to the army.

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