Three heart patients died after a mob of lawyers rampaged through a Lahore hospital in a dispute with doctors.
Up to 200 lawyers wearing traditional black suits stormed the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC), smashing windows, doors and equipment and setting a police van ablaze.
Television reports showed some of the lawyers armed with handguns while riot police fired tear gas to try to quell the mob. Lawyers could be seen standing on the bonnet of a burning police vehicle and scuffling with officers.
Doctors and nurses fled the hospital to escape the violence, leaving intensive care patients unattended.
“Three patients including an elderly woman died after doctors failed to provide them timely treatment and remained engaged in averting the assault," Punjab provincial health minister Yasmeen Rashid said.
Lahore government official Kamran Ali told Reuters the lawyers were enraged by an earlier incident where doctors allegedly beat a lawyer at the hospital over his refusal to get in a queue of patients.
The lawyers were particularly angry that the doctors filmed and shared the beating on social media, he said.
The mob also manhandled the provincial information minister, Fayaz-ul-Hasan Chauhan, as he tried to negotiate with the lawyers.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s office launched an investigation into the incident, while prominent lawyers called for the hooligans to be disbarred.
"This was kind of a high-handedness which none of civilised societies can tolerate," provincial law minister Raja Basharat told AFP.
Several lawyers have been identified from the television footage and the government will deal with all those involved in the attack with an iron hand," Mr Basharat said
Shireen Mazari, the human rights minister, likened the lawyers to terrorists. She said: “Absolutely horrifying that those supposed to act in accordance with the law chose to become terrorists when they attacked PIC in Lahore, killing patients in the process.”
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