Karachi protest: Pakistan clashes at airport 'kill two'

Pakistani paramilitary soldiers and protesters clash in Karachi Image copyright AFP
Image caption Pakistani paramilitary soldiers have been deployed to Karachi's international airport

Pakistani security forces and protesters have clashed at Karachi airport, leaving at least two people dead, officials say.

Staff at the national carrier Pakistan International Airlines were protesting against privatisation plans.

Officers responded with tear gas, water cannon and batons. At least three other people were injured.

Police denied having opened fire on protesters, who broke through the cargo gate.

The two who died were workers of the company, hospital officials have said.

The violence came as hundreds of airline employees held the latest in a series of protests against the proposals to complete a partial sale of the airliner by July.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Police used water cannon to disperse protesters
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Wounded employees were taken to a hospital in Karachi
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Dozens of employees marched against plans to privatise Pakistan's national airliner

A large contingent of police and paramilitary soldiers tried to keep the crowd from approaching the city's Jinnah International Airport before shots were fired. The source of the gunfire was not immediately clear.

Senior police officer Kamran Fazal told reporters at the scene that officials had been collecting empty shells to determine where the gunfire had come from.

Pakistan's Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, has invoked a law barring the airlines' employees from union activity for six months.

The airliner was once a source of pride for Pakistan but in recent years its reputation has been hit by losses, mismanagement and cancelled flights.

Despite the strike, no major disruption on flight schedules has been reported.

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