Kashmir: Dozens of pro-Palestine demonstrators arrested in Pakistan after violent protest

Jammu & Kashmir POK - Pakistan Occupied Kashmir

More than 50 men have been arrested in Pakistan’s AJK after a crowd chanting anti-Israel slogans picketed and set fire to a restaurant belonging to American fast food chain KFC, police said Saturday.

The incident took place on Friday evening in the northeastern town of Mirpur, in Azad Kashmir, after protesters gathered on the town’s main thoroughfare after Ramadan evening prayers.

Videos circulating on social media show men chanting anti-Israel slogans, carrying a banner inscribed with “Free Palestine.”

Nearly 400 protesters gathered at the height of the demonstration and clashes broke out with the police, Mirpur police chief Kamran Mughal told AFP.

“We had told them that they can only protest in a certain area. But, when their numbers started growing, they made their way over to KFC,” said police superintendent Mughal.

Other videos from inside the restaurant show smashed windows, broken furniture and damaged equipment.

The crowd set fire to the building, but it did not completely burn down.

Nine police officers were injured by stones thrown by the demonstrators and more than 50 men were arrested, said Mughal.

Restaurant owner Chaudhary Saeed told AFP that a week ago he had sent the administration a video showing a group of around 10 mostly young men planning the attack.

“We are here because our mission is to shut down KFC next Friday. Our brothers and sisters (in Gaza) are being subjected to cruelty,” one of the men could be heard declaring in the video.

Another loudly chimed in, saying “No Israeli products, no Coke” to loud applause.

Most of the demonstrators were not affiliated to any group, but police confirmed that some belonged to the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), a radical political party behind violent anti-French protests in 2020 and 2021.

Islamist parties in Pakistan have called for a boycott of Israeli products, and criticized the United States and other Western countries for their support of Israel in its war against Hamas militants in Gaza.__Courtesy Daily Times