07/24/2006, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Punjab: 550 Islamic exponents arrested

Police in the province have seized publications inciting clashes and exalting inter-religious hatred. They appealed for collaboration with the security forces to prevent the emergence of situations leading to the outbreak of sectarian hatred.

Lahore (AsiaNews/DT) – Punjab Police have arrested more than 550 Islamic clerics and activists belonging to banned militant organizations. Inspector General (IG) of Police Ziaul Hassan Khan yesterday described the move as a "a crackdown on Islamic extremists in the province."

Khan presented his report during a meeting chaired by Punjab Law Minister, Muhammad Basharat Raja, saying the operation was "yielding great results and legal action against clerics spreading sectarianism, violence against other faiths, will follow". During the raids, literature inciting clashes had been confiscated and proceedings started against the publishers, he said.

Lahore police arrested 24 clerics and other religious leaders and registered 118 cases under the Amplifier Act for "illegal use of loudspeakers in mosques". They also held 102 people for carrying unlicensed weapons.

Khan wound up his intervention by urging "senior police officers to prevent any violence from flaring up" and to "prevent the emergence of situations that could lead to outbursts of sectarian hatred".

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