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Clashes at protest for Islamist killer

Islamist activists chant slogans over the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, as they gather at Rawalpindi's Liaqat Bagh before marching towards Islamabad.

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Reuters

Thousands of people protested in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, on Sunday against the execution last month of Islamist Mumtaz Qadri.

Police fired tear gas at protesters who threw stones, damaged property and started fires in the street.

By Monday, thousands were still staging a sit-in around the parliament.

Police bodyguard Qadri murdered his boss, Punjab governor Salman Taseer, in 2011, after Mr Taseer called for reform of Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws.

Qadri’s supporters say he is a hero and should be considered a martyr.

Critics say the blasphemy laws, which allow the death penalty to be imposed in some cases, are often misused to oppress religious minorities.

The protest was not given much prominence in local media, which is increasingly under official pressure to tone down coverage of events that might encourage unrest.

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AFP

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Some estimates said there were 25,000 people at the rally, fewer than at many similar demonstrations in the past

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AFP

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Security was tight around the protests, one of several in support of Qadri since he committed his crime in 2011

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AFP

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The protesters marched from Islamabad’s twin city Rawalpindi to the nearby capital, which was being defended by hundreds of police and soldiers

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AFP

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The protesters intended to march on parliament, but security forces fired tear gas to try to prevent them reaching the city centre

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AFP

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The unrest continued into the night, with protesters setting fire to a lorry trailer in the darkness

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AFP

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By Monday morning, some vehicles were still burning and hundreds of protesters were staging a sit-in outside parliament

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EPA

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It followed a similar protest on 13 March – one of many against Qadri’s prosecution and execution

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