Mumtaz Qadri supporters rally in Islamabad after clashes

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image copyrightAFP
image captionPolice made a number of arrests in Islamabad on Monday

Thousands of supporters of executed Islamist killer Mumtaz Qadri are staging a sit-in outside Pakistan's parliament in Islamabad.

It comes a day after clashes broke out at a rally in support of Qadri, who was executed last month for the 2011 murder of reformist politician Salman Taseer.

There were new clashes on Monday as police made a number of arrests and cleared some areas of protesters.

Qadri killed Mr Taseer over his opposition to strict blasphemy laws.

His supporters say he is a hero and should be considered a martyr.

Critics say the blasphemy laws, which allow the death penalty to be imposed in some cases, are often misused to oppress religious minorities.

The protest was not given much prominence in local media, which is increasingly under official pressure to tone down coverage of events that might encourage unrest.

The BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says protests are now concentrated in the so-called Red Zone of the capital, home to parliament and many government buildings.

Reports put the number of demonstrators at several thousand.

Sunday's unrest involved an estimated 25,000 people. Police fired tear gas at protesters who threw stones, damaged property and started fires in the street.

image copyrightReuters
image copyrightAFP
image captionSome estimates said there were 25,000 people at the rally on Sunday, fewer than at many similar demonstrations in the past.
image copyrightAFP
image captionThe protesters marched from Islamabad's twin city Rawalpindi to the nearby capital, heading for Qadri's grave, but then veered towards the centre of the city.
image copyrightAFP
image captionSecurity was tight around the protest, with hundreds of police and soldiers on duty.
image copyrightAFP
image captionThe protesters intended to march on parliament, but security forces fired tear gas to try to prevent them reaching the city centre.
image copyrightAFP
image captionThe unrest continued into the night, with protesters setting fire to a lorry trailer in the darkness.
image copyrightAFP
image captionThey are demanding that the government release religious activists in detention.
image copyrightAFP
image captionBy Monday morning, some vehicles were still burning and thousands of protesters were staging a sit-in outside parliament.
image copyrightEPA
image captionSeveral other protests have been held against Qadri's prosecution and execution, like this one earlier in March, some of them breaking into violence.

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