Lahore: Two people including a policeman were killed in renewed clashes on Saturday between followers of a cleric and police after authorities blocked roads leading to his headquarters in Lahore.
"An elite commando of Punjab police succumbed to his injuries as a result of a clash with protesters in Sargodha," Punjab police spokeswoman Nabeela Ghazanfar said.
She said supporters of Tahirul Qadri armed with knives and sticks also clashed with police in Faisalabad, 120 kilometres west of Lahore.
"Around 10 police vehicles were torched while dozens of police personnel were injured," she said. In another incident, a supporter of Qadri died of gunshot wounds in the southern city of Multan.
"The dead body of one protestor from Multan was handed over to his relatives after carrying out the post-mortem in Multan," senior police official Shakir Hussain Dawar said.
Violence broke out on Friday after hundreds of baton-wielding supporters of the cleric tried to remove shipping containers used to block the roads to his base in the upscale Model Town area of Lahore.
Qadri, who is based in Canada, had previously threatened to march on the Pakistani capital and overthrow the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Following yesterday's renewed clashes, the cleric called off a mass prayer procession due to be held today in Lahore for the victims of previous violence between his supporters and the authorities in June.
"All the roads leading to Lahore have been blocked and the police are firing at our protesters, it is not possible for my activists to reach Lahore and I don't want more bloodshed," the cleric said in a televised press conference.
"I announce mass prayers sessions to be held in all villages, towns and cities across the country, we cannot afford to lose more lives," he said.
"The police are firing straight at the chests of protesters and people travelling towards Lahore from various cities of Punjab", he said.
"More than 1,000 people have sustained bullet injuries and they are not even allowed to go to hospital, the Punjab government has closed all hospitals for them," Qadri told the press conference in Lahore.