Deadly clashes claim eight lives in Lahore

*Police clashed with followers of Dr Tahirul Qadri in a rare act of political violence *Spokesman says PAT will register cases against Nawaz, Shahbaz

LAHORE, Pakistan – At least eight people were killed on Tuesday when police clashed with followers of Dr Tahirul Qadri, who head the Minhajul Quran, here in Lahore, hospital officials said, a rare act of political violence in the relatively peaceful city.

The clashes involved supporters of Dr Tahirul Qadri who resides in Canada but came to Pakistan last year to lead a major anti-corruption march prior to elections. The moderate leader is due to return on June 23 where he hopes to lead a peaceful revolution against the country's parliamentary democracy.

“We received seven dead bodies including two women. All of them had bullet wounds,” said Dr Abdul Rauf, Medical Superintendent at the Jinnah Hospital. “We also received 80 injured, 40 with bullet injuries and 40 with other wounds. Two injured are critical,” he said.

Muhammad Rizwan, another member of the medical staff, confirmed that the bodies had been received. Police said the clashes began when they went to remove what they called ‘illegal security barricades’ from the office of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) in the Model Town on late Monday night.

“When police arrived to remove illegal encroachments, party workers started pelting stones and threw petrol bombs from the roof,” city's police chief Chaudhry Shafiq told AFP. He also disputed the number of dead, and said police were among those injured.

“I can confirm five deaths and at least 27 policemen were also wounded, two of them critically,” Shafiq said, adding that deaths were from the bullets fired by workers, not police. Shahid Mursaleen, a spokesman for the party, accused Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of having a direct hand in the killings.

“These killings have been made on the orders of Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif. We will register police cases against Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif and their team,” he said. “We are a peaceful party but if such brutal acts by the government continue, our workers will come on roads and then they will get out of Dr Qadri's control,” he added.

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