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Dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters arrested in Mirpur, AJK

More than 50 individuals have been detained in Pakistan following a protest where a crowd, chanting anti-Israel slogans, gathered and set fire to a KFC restaurant, as stated by the police on Saturday.

The incident unfolded on Friday evening in Mirpur, located in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, after demonstrators congregated on the town’s main street subsequent to Ramazan evening prayers.

Videos shared on social media depict men chanting anti-Israel slogans and carrying a banner advocating for “Free Palestine”.

At the peak of the demonstration, approximately 400 protesters assembled, leading to clashes with law enforcement, as confirmed by Mirpur police chief Kamran Mughal.

“We had informed them that their protest must be confined to a certain area. However, as their numbers grew, they proceeded towards KFC,” stated police superintendent Mughal.

Additional footage from within the restaurant reveals vandalized windows, furniture, and equipment.

While the building was set ablaze by the crowd, it was not completely destroyed.

Nine police officers sustained injuries from stones hurled by the demonstrators, with over 50 individuals subsequently arrested, according to Mughal.

Chaudhary Saeed, the owner of the restaurant, informed AFP that a week prior, he had submitted a video to the authorities showing a group, primarily comprising young men, plotting the attack.

“We are here to shut down KFC next Friday. Our brothers and sisters in Gaza are enduring oppression,” one of the individuals stated in the video.

Another participant exclaimed, “No Israeli products, no Coke,” prompting enthusiastic applause.

While most protesters were not affiliated with any specific group, authorities confirmed the involvement of some individuals associated with Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), a radical political party known for its involvement in violent protests against France in 2020 and 2021.

Religious factions in Pakistan have urged a boycott of Israeli goods and denounced the United States and other Western nations for supporting Israel in its conflict with Hamas in Gaza.

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