10,000 people protest against Prophet cartoons in southern Pakistan city

About 10,000 people shouting "God is Great!" marched through Karachi on Thursday and burned effigies of the Danish prime minister in Pakistan's fourth straight day of protests over cartoons of Prophet Muhammad, police said.

About 5,000 police and paramilitary forces, wearing helmets and wielding guns and shields, were deployed along the 3-kilometer (2-mile) route of the rally through the city center, said Mushtaq Shah, chief of police operations in the southern city of Karachi.

There were no immediate reports of violence at the protest, organized by Jamat Ahl-e-Sunnat, a small Sunni Muslim group.

Demonstrations against the cartoons published in European newspapers have turned violent in other Pakistani cities this week, leaving at least five people dead.

Shah estimated 10,000 people joined the Karachi protest, which was joined by students and supporters of Jamat Ahl-e-Sunnat wearing green turbans.

They burned flags and effigies of the prime minister of Denmark, where the cartoons were first published, and chanted, "God's curse be on those who insulted the prophet."

Traffic was diverted to other streets, and the government ordered educational institutions to close for the day. Most shops in the city, a hotbed of Islamic militancy, were shut and most public transport was off the roads, reports the AP.

I.L.