Pakistan: Islamabad police clash with Qadri supporters

Police in Pakistan have fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of supporters of a prominent anti-government cleric in the capital, Islamabad.

Crowds had gathered at the city's airport to welcome Tahirul Qadri from Canada where he lives, but his flight was diverted to Lahore.

He says he plans to lead a peaceful revolt against PM Nawaz Sharif.

At least Fourteen people were killed last week when police in Lahore used live ammunition against his followers.

Mr Qadri, seen here on the rerouted flight to Lahore, says the government 'hijacked' his flight

Police had sealed off roads to Islamabad airport but some of the cleric's supporters - chanting "Islamic revolution" and "long live the army" - managed to break through the security cordon.

Television footage showed Qadri followers armed with sticks and stones fighting running battles with police wielding batons.

Mr Qadri's flight was rerouted to Lahore "to ensure the safety of the passengers and aircraft", a spokesman for Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority told AFP news agency.

The daily Emirates flight EK612 from Dubai had approached the Pakistani capital to land but passengers found themselves circling overhead before being diverted several hundred kilometres east.

The cleric accused the government of hijacking the aircraft and refused to get off for several hours, but later agreed to leave in the presence of Punjab governor Mohammad Sarwar.

He told the BBC's Wietske Burema who was on the flight that he wants "democratic reforms". The government, he said, had been elected through "a rigged electoral process".

Source: www.bbc.com


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