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Police: Violence Erupts as Pakistani Lawyers Storm Hospital

A lawyer throws a trash can toward police near a vehicle set on fire outside the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) in Lahore on December 11.
A lawyer throws a trash can toward police near a vehicle set on fire outside the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) in Lahore on December 11.

LAHORE, PAKISTAN -- Hundreds of Pakistani lawyers, angered over alleged misbehavior by some doctors toward one of their colleagues, stormed a cardiology hospital in the eastern city of Lahore on December 11.

The assault set off scuffles with the facility's staff and guards that caused three deaths and left heart patients unattended for several hours, police said.

According to police, the lawyers started punching and kicking some doctors at Punjab Institute of Cardiology and beating them with sticks. Police said the mob damaged hospital equipment and prompted the families of some patients to move them to other hospitals.

Authorities say tension had been brewing between the city's lawyers and doctors since last month, when a Lahore lawyer complained that doctors mistreated him when he brought an ailing relative to the hospital. It was unclear what the mistreatment involved.

Local TV footage showed the lawyers' rampage as policemen descended on them with batons and some of the people at the scene cried for help.

According to witnesses and officials, two female patients at the hospital's emergency ward died when doctors and paramedics fled for safety. It was unclear who the third fatality was.

Police later detained several lawyers on charges related to damaging hospital property, beating up doctors and clashing with hospital guards and police.

Raja Bisharat, provincial law minister, told reporters that authorities had ordered a probe into the incident. “The government will take stern action against those involved in attacking the hospital and beating the doctors,” he said.

Fayaz-ul-Hasan Chohan, provincial information minister, said he was also beaten by the protesting lawyers when he reached the hospital to assess the situation. “Hospitals are not attacked even when there is a war but today lawyers attacked a hospital and caused problems for the patients,” he said.

Chohan said a group of lawyers also tried to kidnap him when he reached the hospital, where lawyers were beating doctors and clashing with police. "Now the situation is under out control,'' he said.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered an investigation into the incident.

-- By Associated Press via VOA

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