Published September 20, 2012
ISLAMABAD – Authorities in Pakistan reportedly called on the army to help contain increasingly violent anti-American protests Thursday in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.
The demonstrators said they were protesting against an anti-Islam film and its depiction of Islam's Prophet Muhammad. Hundreds of protesters clashed with riot police, who used tear gas and batons against the protesters.
A crowd of more than 1,000 people tried to make their way to the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan inside a guarded enclave that houses embassies and government offices. Some protesters were students affiliated with the Islamist hardline Jamaat-e-Islami party.
The State Department issued an alert Thursday warning Americans to avoid non-essential travel to Pakistan amid the protests.
The demonstrations are expected to grow in Pakistan on Friday, the traditional day of prayer in the Muslim world. The Pakistani government has called a national holiday for Friday so that people could come out and demonstrate peacefully against the film.
That decision drew rare words of praise from the Pakistani Taliban, which is usually at war with the government.
A spokesman for the militant group said it welcomed the decision but also thought the government should expel all American diplomats.
The recent anti-American protests have left at least 30 people in seven countries dead, including the American ambassador to Libya. Two people have died in protests in Pakistan.
In Indonesia, the U.S. consulate in the country's third-largest city of Medan shut its doors Thursday for a second day because of demonstrations.
About 50 students from an Islamic university gathered in Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi province in Indonesia. They burned tires and forced a McDonald's restaurant to close. The door was later covered with a sign saying, "This must be closed as a symbol of our protest of the `Innocence of Muslims' made in the U.S.," referring to the title of the film.
In Iran, hundreds of students and clerics gathered outside the French embassy in Tehran to protest the publication of the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in the French weekly.
Protesters chanted "Death to France" and "Down with the U.S." and burned the flags of the United States and Israel. The demonstration ended after two hours.
In Kabul, a few hundred people demonstrated in the downtown area against the film, chanting ant-American slogans before dispersing peacefully.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.