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4 dead, 500 arrested as Pakistani police and protesters clash

Published on Aug 9, 2014 9:07 PM

LAHORE/MULTAN, Pakistan (REUTERS) - Violence flared in several towns and cities in Pakistan on Saturday between police and supporters of an anti-government cleric, killing at least four people and injuring scores, police and witnesses said.

Activist cleric Tahir ul-Qadri called off a large protest rally planned in Lahore on Sunday. Following a police crack down, he urged supporters to hold smaller protests in their home towns instead.

"Pick up the bodies of the martyred and keep the bodies of the injured before you - but protest peacefully," Qadri said in a televised address. "The government wants a massacre in the name of a crackdown."

The violence, which started on Friday, exacerbated tensions ahead of the Lahore demonstration. Qadri had planned to protest against deadly clashes between his supporters and police in June.

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