Anti-government protesters calling for the prime minister’s resignation briefly took control of the headquarters of the state-owned Pakistan Television (PTV) on Monday and forced the channel to suspend broadcasts until Pakistani security officials retook control hours later.
Several hundred protesters with sticks and batons stormed the building in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, and then ransacked the headquarters, cutting the transmission cables in the newsroom. PTV officials reported that at least 20 cameras were now missing, among other damaged property, The New York Times reported.
Thousands of protesters loyal to radical-cleric Muhammad Tahir-ul Qadri and cricket player-turned opposition politician Imran Khan have been demonstrating in the capital since mid-August, calling for the ouster of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over accusations of corruption and election fraud. The protesters that stormed the PTV building appeared to be largely supporters of Qadri, the Times reports.
Over the weekend, the largely non-violent protests took a violent turn when clashes between police and protesters left at least three protesters dead and 500 more wounded. Pakistan has a long history of military coups, and many worry that this latest unrest could lead the military to retake control as the government weighs how to respond.