The country’s interior minister said supporters of the banned extremist group opened fire at a rally on Wednesday, killing three Pakistani policemen and injuring 70 others.
The banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) has been behind large anti-French protests, which prompted the embassy to issue a warning to all French nationals to leave the country.
The latest demonstrations began on Friday in the group’s stronghold city of Lahore, with thousands slowly marching towards the capital, Islamabad.
“They opened fire on the police with Kalashnikov… three policemen were martyred,” Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told a news conference. He said that eight of the injured were in critical condition.
The TLP in turn accused the police of firing at the mob, killing four of its supporters.
Police in Punjab province, whose capital is Lahore, denied the use of rubber bullets or guns and would not comment on claims that protesters had been killed.
“We have not used any such weapon against them,” police spokesman Mazhar Hussain told AFP.
The group is protesting the detention of its leader Saad Rizvi, who was arrested in April after the TLP was outlawed, and is demanding the expulsion of the French ambassador.
The TLP has waged an anti-French campaign as President Emmanuel Macron defended the right of a satirical magazine to republish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed – an act considered blasphemous by many Muslims.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)