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Musharraf pledges crackdown on agitators

Pakistan protests
Pakistan is grappling to quell violent protest actions against the U.S.-led airstrikes in Afghanistan  


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has vowed to deal "firmly and swiftly" with agitators seeking to cause violence during protests against the U.S.-led strikes on Afghanistan.

To date at least five people have been killed, dozens injured and scores arrested by the police after violence erupted during a series of protests in the cities of Quetta and Peshawar close to the Afghan border.

On Wednesday, more than 5,000 protesters took to the streets in Karachi, holding banners and chanting slogans against America and President Bush.

In response Musharraf summoned top security officials and the governors of Pakistan's four provinces for a meeting Thursday to review the security situation across the country.

In many cases, the government says, Afghan refugees have been involved in the violence.

It has threatened to deport any refugees found participating in political agitation.

The government issued the warning following reports that large numbers of people taking part in anti-U.S. and pro-Taliban demonstrations had come across the border from Afghanistan.

Warning

"Refugees are given shelter in the country and they should confine themselves to being refugees and should not start any political agitation," Foreign Ministry spokesman Aziz Ahmad Khan told a news conference.

"If anybody indulges in such activities they should be sent back," he said.

On Thursday police in Peshawar said an Afghan refugee was injured when a grenade he planned to throw at Western journalists went off during a scuffle.

Police said Shafi Ullah wanted to kill the journalists because he said his wife and children had been killed in the bombing of Kabul.

"I got mad," Ullah told authorities in a confession, a copy of which was read to reporters.

"I decided to take my revenge on America and kill foreign journalists."

Police said Ullah bought a grenade and went to a police checkpoint on the Jamrud road on the outskirts of the city where foreign journalists frequently pass en route to the border or Afghan refugee camps.



 
 
 
 


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