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Pakistan protests follow prayers

Pakistan has seen daily protests since the strikes began over Afghanistan  

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Violent protests against the U.S.-led strikes over Afghanistan broke out Friday in the Pakistani port city of Karachi.

Demonstrators threw stones at police, set light to cars and burned down a fast food outlet belonging to the American chain, KFC.

Protests have also been reported elsewhere in Pakistan on the first Friday since the strikes on Afghanistan began.

Friday is the Muslim holy day and large numbers of police backed up by paramilitary troops have been bracing themselves for trouble following midday prayers.

An umbrella group of 35 Islamic organizations had promised to call a strike Friday to protest the U.S. government action.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has said the government will not tolerate extremist activity and promised to take action against the protesters.

He said troops would come in to keep the peace if local police could not.

Zero tolerance

Riot police
Thousands of riot police have been deployed across the country with army support on stand-by  

In a round of security meetings Thursday with regional governors, Musharraf laid out his plan to deploy troops, saying the destruction of property would not be tolerated and instructing the governors how to deal with protests.

In Karachi, demonstrations began before midday prayers with protesters setting fire to several cars, including one owned by the mayor.

Demonstrators and paramilitary troops clashed at least three times before noon, with the troops firing tear gas in an effort to disperse the crowd.

Armored cars were seen on the streets, and troops and police erected barricades to stop large groups from entering the city.

Troops had standing orders to block any large gatherings from forming.

The leaders of the Afghan Defense Council and the political party Jamaat-i-Islami -- both pro-Taliban groups -- have been arrested and detained in their homes.

A heavy protection force has been deployed in the diplomatic area of Karachi.

A less violent protest took place in Islamabad Friday morning where riot police were seen in the streets and army troops patrolled in gun-mounted trucks.

Islamabad has a city ordinance banning the gathering of any group larger than five.

Quetta protests

A heavy police presence was also visible in the city of Quetta, close to the Afghan border, which has seen the most violent demonstrations so far this week.

Officials said 1,500 police and army troops were on the streets, but CNN Correspondent Amanda Kibel reported that their numbers appeared to be much higher.

In an indication that city officials expected increased levels of violence, reserve police from Baluchistan state were brought in to bolster the security forces.

Ten trucks filled with police surrounded Quetta's largest stadium, which has the capacity for several thousand people, awaiting the arrival of demonstrators expected to gather there once midday prayers finished.

Demonstrations in Quetta were particularly violent Monday, with one person killed, dozens hurt, and several buildings torched -- including United Nations offices, police stations, and several banks.

Violent demonstrations were also reported Friday in the city of Peshawar, where anti-American demonstrations have erupted since the airstrikes began in Afghanistan.

Musharraf has repeatedly said the protests represent a vocal minority and are not representative of the people.

-- From CNN Correspondent Tom Mintier


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