Pakistani police launch operation to clear Islamist rally

Pakistani police launch operation to clear Islamist rally

Pakistani police have launched an operation to clear an intersection linking capital Islamabad with the garrison city of Rawalpindi where an Islamist group's supporters have camped out for the last 20 days.

Police and paramilitary force moved against the supporters of Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah party early Saturday after a deadline expired at midnight.

Police lobbed tear gas canisters, surrounding and arresting dozens of protesters who were resisting by throwing stones. The action came after a court ordered the protest to stop saying it has disrupted life.

Television footage shows police trying to take control of the venue that's engulfed by thick smoke from tear gas.

The group was demanding the removal of the law minister over a recently omitted reference to the Prophet Muhammad in a parliamentary bill.