Riot police used tear gas and batons to keep the stone-throwing demonstrators away from the guarded enclave housing the embassy, and hundreds of shipping containers were lined up to cordon off the area. The government later called in army troops to protect the restricted areas when it appeared that police could not handle the situation.
“It is our responsibility to protect all our diplomats, all the foreigners,” said Pakistani Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira. He criticized protesters for resorting to violence and suggested that various religious and militant groups among the crowd were to blame.
Most of the protesters appeared to be students affiliated with the Islamist hardline Jamaat-e-Islami party. Flags from other Islamist groups, Jamaat-u-Dawa and the al-Qaeda linked militant group, Sipah-e-Sahaba, could be seen flying among the crowd. Demonstrators also rallied peacefully in the Pakistani cities of Lahore, Chaman, Karachi and Peshawar.
The demonstrations are expected to grow on Friday, the traditional Muslim day of prayer. The Pakistani government deemed Friday a national holiday so people can demonstrate peacefully against the film.
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