Protesters stormed the headquarters of Pakistani Television (PTV) in Islamabad on Monday, taking it off air and beating up the station's journalists, according to Reuters. The attack follows a bloody weekend in the Pakistani capital.
"They have stormed the PTV office," an anchor said just before the transmission abruptly ended, Reuters reported. "PTV staff performing their journalistic duties are being beaten up."
Paramilitary forces and soldiers later secured the station, which resumed broadcasting. Protesters left peacefully.
The storming of PTV came as fresh clashes erupted between stick-wielding protesters and police on Monday morning, just hours after the nation’s powerful military called for a peaceful solution to the political stalemate, according to Agence France-Presse.
Demonstrations against the government have been led for weeks by cricket icon turned opposition politician Imran Khan and outspoken politician-cleric Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri, in a bid to remove Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from power.
Khan insists that Sharif’s government finagled its way into office through rigged elections last year, and insists that the Prime Minister must resign, and fresh elections set, before the protests end.
The demonstrations that commenced in normally sleepy Islamabad on Aug. 15 have increasingly turned violent.
At least three people were reportedly killed over the weekend as protesters attempted to move deeper into the so-called red zone, where Parliament and executive offices, along with the Prime Minister's residence and several embassies, are located.
On Monday, Khan urged his supporters to refrain from further violence in the wake of the recent bloodshed, according to Reuters.
"I call upon my workers to remain peaceful," said Khan, addressing crowds from the top of a shipping container serving as a makeshift stage. "Do not carry out any acts of violence. God has given us victory."
Domestic news outlet Dawn reports that the embattled Prime Minister and Pakistani army chief General Raheel Sharif are meeting in Islamabad to discuss the crisis.