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Anti-U.S. Protests In Pakistan

Thousands of Pakistanis threatened war against Americans, and police clashed with demonstrators in the nation's largest city, as Muslim parties held nationwide strikes Friday to protest Pakistan's support for Washington in its campaign against terrorism.

The demonstrations were called throughout Pakistan after its leader, Gen. Pervaiz Musharraf, gave his support to U.S. efforts to apprehend alleged terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden and to break up his suspected terrorist network operating from neighboring Afghanistan.

Crowds as large as 12,000 people turned out at the anti-U.S. and anti-Pakistan rallies in the cities of Peshawar, Islamabad, Quetta and Lahore following services at mosques on the Muslim day of prayer. Some of the demonstrations were smaller than expected, and most were peaceful in cities whose main markets remained closed and streets empty of traffic. But at least one civilian was killed and five policemen injured in clashes in Karachi, the southern port city.

In Peshawar, as many as 10,000 people marched to the center of the northwestern city, screaming slogans against the U.S. and Pakistanis governments. They gathered in front of the main mosque where their religious leaders made speeches over a microphone supporting bin Laden and the hard-line Muslim Taliban leadership that has protected him and his followers in Afghanistan for years.

Read more about the Taliban and events in Afghanistan.

Jamming the streets, the protesters carried, then burned at least three life-size effigies of President Bush and shouted slogans such as "Long live Osama."

"We will fight until the death and destruction of the United States," said one sign. "Crush America and Bush" said another.

Hundreds of people watched the procession from rooftops and balconies in a city where most people are Pashtun, the same ethnic group that dominates the Taliban.

One tribal leader, Sabar Abdul Rehman, told the crowd that his area near the Khyber Pass will reduce the price of guns from $124 to $8. "I invite the Americans to come to our land so you can see for yourselves what will be done to you," he said.

As heavily armed police stood by and watched the rally, many stores outside the city center defied the strike by remaining open for business.

In Karachi, the country's biggest city and commercial hub, police fired tear gas and beat people with iron-tipped sticks on Friday morning to disperse several small demonstrations by people who pelted vehicles with stones and blocked roads. At least 70 demonstrators were arrested, police said.

In another demonstration in the city of 12 million people, 500 Afghan refugees burned tires and clashed with the police in the Sohrab Goth neighborhood.

After Friday prayers at mosques around Karachi, about 10,000 people rallied in the working-class neighborhood of Banaras Chowk, some throwinrocks that injured five policemen.

In another incident, one person was killed when a security guard at a factory fired a gun at a group of protesters who were trying to block a road in the Mauripur industrial district.

In Islamabad, the capital, the Muslim service at the towering Lal Masjid mosque warned Musharraf not to cooperate with the United States. "Musharraf, listen: The nation will not accept your decision, and any collaboration with the United States is treason," the preacher told the worshippers.

After prayers, a crowd of about 3,000 gathered outside the mosque, carrying banners condemning the governments of the United States and Pakistan.

"Afghanistan is the graveyard of the Americans," they chanted, and vowed to join a "jihad," or holy war against the United States.

One demonstrator, Saiful Rehman, said: "We will go to fight against America because we stand by Mullah Omar (the Taliban leader) and his call for a jihad."

In the southwestern city of Quetta, several thousand people rallied outside the central mosque holding signs saying "Osama: Hero No. 1" and pictures of bin Laden. They chanted, "Death to America" and "America's graveyard: Afghanistan."

After several hours of fiery speeches denouncing the United States and the Pakistani government, the rally dispersed peacefully.

In Lahore, the capital of Pakistan's most populous province, 12,000 people rallied outside the Masjid-e-Shudha mosque. The key speaker, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, one of Pakistan's main religious parties, opposed any attack on Afghanistan and called Musharraf a coward.

Another speaker invited Pakistanis to volunteer to fight on Taliban's side against U.S. forces.

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