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Kibel: Quelling protests in Quetta

(CNN) -- Demonstrations broke out Friday across Pakistan in protest of the U.S.-led attacks on Afghanistan. Quetta is one city that has dealt with the gatherings since Monday. Authorities were prepared for the latest round. CNN Correspondent Amanda Kibel is stationed there and has been following the story.

KIBEL: After Friday prayers, a group of about 4,000 demonstrators made their way toward the central stadium here in Quetta, (where they) called for the destruction of America, and pledged to shed American blood and die fighting for Afghanistan.

It broke up and when protesters left the stadium there was a significant police presence waiting for them outside. The strategy here is to break up the groups as quickly as possible, to disperse people into small groups and then move them on.

Now reinforcements have been brought in for today's events -- reserves brought in, as well as anti-terrorist squads -- to try to keep a police presence on the street. In fact, the chief police officer was on the street himself today, directing operations from the ground. He tells CNN that his forces have been instructed to operate under a zero tolerance policy. They were told to shoot at any sign of violence.

The strategy seems to have worked. The streets of Quetta are relatively quiet. People seem to have been dispersed. The question though, is how long can they keep up this massive security operation? And the other question -- how long can they suppress the anger, which still seems to be very much in evidence?

CNN: What has been the sense that you have gotten from people who aren't necessarily involved with the protesters, in the way the protesters are dealing with the situation and the way the authorities have been dealing with it?

KIBEL: I think the majority of people here would not support the violence that has been on the streets of Quetta since Monday. They feel very strongly that the way to go about the process is through negotiations, but a lot of people today express sentiments to us that have been somewhat different from what we've been hearing in the past. We have had a number of people come up to us and say, "All that we're asking is that the United States provide us publicly with evidence that Osama bin Laden is guilty. If that is the case, we will support them."

That is something we have not heard in the past, so there has been a subtle change. Certainly the number of people who are protesting and bent on violence is a small minority -- the protesters themselves a fairly modest group of people numbering 4,000, which is hardly significant in Pakistan, because we've seen 20,000 or more.



 
 
 
 


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