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Pakistan 'Day of Love' protests over anti-Islam film descend into deadly violence

Hundreds protest against an anti-Islam film in Pakistan by setting a cinema on fire on a day the Pakistani government has called for peaceful demonstrations. NBCNews.com's Dara Brown reports.

Updated at 1:10 p.m. ET: ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Protests by tens of thousands of Pakistanis infuriated by an anti-Islam film descended into deadly violence on Friday, with police firing tear gas and live ammunition in an attempt to subdue rioters who hurled rocks and set fire to buildings in some cities.

NBC News reported that 12 people died in Karachi with another three dead in Peshawar during the protests. More than 100 people were injured.

Friday had been declared a national holiday by Pakistan's government so people could rally against the video.

There were also protests in at least half a dozen other countries, with American flags and effigies of President Barack Obama burned.

Mohammad Amir, a driver for a Pakistani television station, was the first to die in Pakistan.

He was killed when bullets hit his vehicle in the northwest city of Peshawar, said Kashif Mahmood, a reporter for ARY TV who was also sitting in the car at the time.

The TV channel showed footage of Amir at the hospital as doctors tried to save him. It also showed the windshield of the vehicle, shattered by several gunshots. Police could not immediately be reached for comment about the death of Amir.

In Karachi, armed protesters among a group of 15,000 fired on police, killing one and wounding another, police officer Ahmad Hassan said. The crowd also burned two cinemas and a bank, he said. 

The film denigrating the Prophet Muhammad has sparked unrest in many parts of the Muslim world over the past 10 days. A United Nations official said prior to Friday's deaths that about 30 people, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, had been killed in the violence.

Much of the anger has been directed at the U.S. government even though the film was privately produced in the U.S. and American officials have criticized it for insulting Muslims.

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Western diplomatic missions throughout the Muslim world tightened security, with some closing down on expectation of big protests after Friday prayers. Cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad published in a French magazine on Wednesday were expected to compound the anger.

French officials have ordered extra security around the country and at its embassies around the world after a satirical magazine published cartoons ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad.  NBC's Michelle Kosinski reports from Paris.

Pakistan's government had encouraged people to protest peacefully Friday, which it described as the "Day of Love for the Prophet Muhammad."

"An attack upon the Holy Prophet is an attack on the whole 1.5 billion Muslims. Therefore, this is something unacceptable," Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said in a speech to politicians and religious leaders.

Akbar Saeed Farooqi, spokesman for a religious organization that helped organize demonstrations, said, "our heart is crying bloody tears. We can bear everything but disrespect to our Prophet and Quran," he added.

Crowds of angry protesters showed up in Kabul, Afghanistan and Jakarta, Indonesia. The violent uprising followed a deadly weekend marking the deaths of eight International Security Assistance Force members. NBC's Atia Abawi reports.

Several hundred protesters ransacked the two cinemas in Peshawar and set them ablaze. A similar number of protesters also torched a toll booth on the outskirts of the capital, Islamabad. Police fired tear gas at the angry crowds in both cities.

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On Thursday in Islamabad, about 1,000 stone-throwing protesters had clashed with police as they tried to force their way to the U.S. Embassy.

At the consulate where four Americans died security consisted of one U.S. regional security officer and a local militia. Ambassador Chris Stevens often had little personal security detail. NBC's Lisa Myers reports.

The U.S. Embassy in Pakistan has been running television advertisements, one featuring Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying the government had nothing to do with the film.

Protests in the Muslim world
Protests went off peacefully in the Arab world, where last week several embassies were attacked and the U.S. envoy to Libya was killed in an initial burst of unrest over the film.

A few dozen Egyptians protested near the French embassy in Cairo, but were kept away from the premises by police deployed in large numbers to avoid a repeat of violence at the U.S. embassy last week.

In Indonesia, which has the world's biggest Muslim population, the U.S. and French embassies were closed in Jakarta Friday.

Lebanon's Hezbollah-run al-Manar television showed thousands of people waving Lebanese and yellow Hezbollah flags as they marched past the Roman ruins of Baalbek and shouted slogans such as "Death to America, death to those who insult the Prophet".

Diplomatic missions in the Afghan capital, Kabul, were on lockdown.

Police in Kabul said they had been in contact with religious and community leaders to try to prevent violence.

"There are some angry demonstrators who will encourage people to violence," senior police officer Mohammad Zahir told Reuters. "There will also be Taliban influence in demonstrations too and they may attack the U.S. and other embassies."

Protests in Kabul and the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif only attracted a few hundred people and no violence was reported, but a cleric told one crowd: "If you kill Americans, it's legal and allowable."

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The cartoons in France's Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly have provoked relatively little street anger, although about 100 Iranians demonstrated outside the French Embassy in Tehran.

Arshad Arbab / EPA

Images of daily life, political pursuits, religious rites and deadly violence.

In Yemen, Western embassies in the capital Sanaa tightened security, fearing the cartoons could lead to more unrest after crowds attacked the U.S. mission there last week over the anti-Islam film.

In Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring revolts, the Islamist-led government decreed a ban on protests planned on Friday against the cartoons. 

An Islamist activist called for attacks in France to avenge the perceived insult to Islam by the "slaves of the cross."

In a statement before her meeting with Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem, Clinton said she and the president are continuing to monitor events around the world closely in the wake of the attacks and protests on American diplomatic posts.

"We've taken a number of steps around the world to augment security and to protect our personnel at diplomatic posts," Clinton said.  In Tunisia, where the embassy and an American school were damaged, Clinton said the government is helping secure the locations and she stressed the importance of bringing those responsible for the assault to justice.


Protests ignited by a controversial film that ridicules Islam's Prophet Muhammad spread throughout Muslim world.

About 10,000 Islamists gathered in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, after Friday prayers, chanting slogans and burning U.S. and French flags and an effigy of Obama.

In Libya, where militias that helped overthrow Moammar Gadhafi still wield much power, the foreign minister offered a further apology for U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens' death to visiting U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns on Thursday.

Around 30,000 Libyans marched through the eastern city of Benghazi on Friday in an unprecedented protest to demand the disbanding of powerful militias in the wake of last week's attack.

NBC News' Fakhar Rehman, Catherine Chomiak and Andy Eckardt, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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