Islamabad: The Interior Ministry called on the Pakistan Army here on Thursday as thousands of enraged protesters attempted to reach Islamabad's heavily-guarded diplomatic enclave in a bid to register their protest against a US-made anti-Islam film.
Police fired live rounds and tear gas earlier in the day to break up a large crowd of over 1,000 students, many armed with wooden clubs.
The enraged student clashed with law enforcement agencies, pelting the police with stones. Several protestors were eventually able to enter the high security Red Zone.
Earlier, police had managed to drive back the demonstrators as they tried to reach Islamabad's heavily-guarded diplomatic enclave, which is home to most Western embassies, including the US, British and French missions.
The crudely made "Innocence of Muslims" has triggered protests in at least 20 countries since excerpts were posted online, and more than 30 people have been killed in violence linked to the film.
There have been dozens of protests around Pakistan over the past week and at least two people have been killed, but Thursday is the first time protests in the capital have turned violent.
Police fired tear gas and live rounds as the protesters tried to break through a barrier of truck containers set up to block access to the diplomatic enclave.
"I was ordered by my boss to disperse the crowd and that is why I had to open live fire but the aim was nearby trees and not the demonstrators," Zaman Khan, a police officer deployed at the picket said.
The firing forced the protesters to scatter, but they returned later to pelt the police picket with stones.
Student Asif Mehmood demanded police let the protesters through to the US embassy.
Fellow protester Rehan Ahmad said: "Islam is often ridiculed by America and the West and blasphemy is committed against our prophet in the name of freedom of expression."
US warns against travel to Pakistan
The State Department is warning Americans to avoid non-essential travel to Pakistan as protests over an anti-Islam video grow and turn violent.
The department issued an alert Thursday. It's stepping up existing advice for Americans to be aware of the risks of travel to Pakistan and said they should defer all non-essential travel to the country. It says protests and demonstrations, some targeting U.S. interests, are likely to continue.
Story first published:
September 20, 2012 17:58 IST