Islamabad, Sept 21: Violence flared up in Pakistan on the day of protest against an anti-Islam film today, with a man dying after being hit by a bullet allegedly fired by police as angry demonstrators chanted slogans against the US and set ablaze two cinema halls in Peshawar.
Notwithstanding Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf's call for people to express their outrage in a peaceful manner, protesters turned violent in Peshawar, the capital of the restive Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, and the garrison city of Rawalpindi, where several demonstrations were organised by students' groups and religious parties.
In Peshawar, two cinema halls were burnt by the protesters, including one near Jinnah Park where a mob of hundreds broke the gate of the building and vandalised it before setting it on fire. The local chamber of commerce was too set ablaze by the angry demonstrators.
The mob also damaged several nearby shops before police fired in the air and used teargas to disperse the protesters. Footage on TV clearly showed that some of the protesters too were armed and had fired during clashes with police. An employee of a private TV news channel died after he was hit by a bullet outside one of the cinema halls vandalised by the protesters.
ARY news channel reported that its employee Mohammed Amir was struck in the chest by a bullet fired by police and died later in hospital.
Amir was in a van that had taken ARY reporters and cameramen to cover the protest outside the cinema hall. ARY said that three bullets hit the van during police firing. There was no official word on the incident.
The news channel beamed footage of doctors at a hospital in Peshawar trying desperately to save Amir. On the outskirts of Rawalpindi near here, a toll plaza and several vehicles were burnt by protesters.