| A policeman arrests a student during a protest in Islamabad. (Reuters)
Islamabad, Feb. 14: In violent protests against the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in European newspapers, two persons were killed in Lahore and a rampaging mob damaged a vehicle belonging to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad today.
Up to 400 students stormed past armed police guarding the diplomatic enclave in Islamabad and reached the Indian High Commission, which is next to the British High Commission, before being driven back by volleys of tear gas.
The protesters smashed windows of cars and a branch of British bank Standard Chartered and shouted: “Death to Denmark” and “Expel European ambassadors”.
Later, an Indian High Commission car had its windows smashed by protesters near the Serena Hotel.
A spokesman for the Indian High Commission said no one was injured in the incident.
The protests were the most serious in Pakistan ' the second-most populous Muslim nation ' since European newspapers re-published cartoons of the Prophet that first appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten last September.
In Lahore, thousands of protesters turned violent after security guards, who were deployed outside a bank, opened fire on protesters, killing two. The mob then torched a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant and the office of the Norwegian mobile phone firm Telenor. They also ransacked a McDonald’s outlet, witnesses said.
Confirming the deaths, interior minister Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao said the government would deal sternly with all those who took the law into their own hands. He accused organisers of the Lahore protests of not keeping their word to remain peaceful.
The diplomatic enclave is home to many European embassies as well as that of the US, but not that of Denmark. It is fenced and barricaded and guarded by armed police. It was the first time protesters have breached the enclave since security was dramatically increased in 2002.