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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 March 2007, 15:40 GMT
Pakistan police and lawyers clash
Pakistani policemen beat a lawyer during a rally in Lahore
More than two dozen people were reportedly injured in Lahore
Police in Pakistan have fired teargas and used batons to disperse hundreds of lawyers in Lahore rallying against the suspension of the country's top judge.

Lawyers said more than two dozen people were injured in the north-eastern city.

Last week's removal of Supreme Court Judge Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry for abuse of office has sparked protests in several cities.

In Islamabad, at least 14 policeman were suspended for raiding a private TV station during Friday's rallies.

The judge's supporters say the move by President Pervez Musharraf to suspend him was aimed at muzzling the judiciary.

Mr Chaudhry has a reputation for independence and has challenged the government on several cases.

Sit-down protest

The clashes in Lahore started when police tried to stop the lawyers at the city's high court from holding a protest march, witnesses said.

Iftikhar Chaudhry arrives at the Supreme Court

The protesters then began hurling stones at the police, who hit back with stones, teargas and batons, a BBC correspondent in the city says.

More than two dozen people - including police officers and journalists - were injured during the clashes, the lawyers said.

They later managed to held a sit-down protests on the main road for more than an hour.

It seems that the government did not anticipate such strong reaction, following the sacking of Mr Chaudhry, the BBC's Barbara Plett in Islamabad says.

Musharraf's apology

One police raid on the private Geo TV's office in Islamabad on Friday has caused particular public outrage.

The police moved in large numbers into the office of the company which, like other media outlets, had been defying government attempts to influence their coverage of the protests.

The police used long batons to smash glass, furniture and broadcast equipment.

On Saturday, at least 14 police were suspended and a judicial inquiry was ordered into the ransacking.

President Musharraf earlier personally apologised for the raid.

"Such an incident should not have happened. The culprits must be identified and punished," he said.

Mr Chaudhry's lawyers said on Saturday that the security forces have removed barricades around his house and restored his telephone and television services which had been cut off.

Arrests

Friday's violence in Islamabad began shortly before Mr Chaudhry made his second appearance before a tribunal at the Supreme Court. There were similar protests when he appeared before the tribunal on Tuesday.

A number of people have been arrested during the protests.

Mr Chaudhry was suspended by President Musharraf after he had received "numerous complaints and serious allegations for misconduct, misuse of authority and actions prejudicial to the dignity of office of the chief justice of Pakistan", the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan news agency said.

Details of the charges have not been made public.

The chief justice has vowed to fight his case.

Lawyers say his suspension is an assault on judicial independence.


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Pakistan's lawyers clash with police



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