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Anti-government protesters claim victory after occupying area around parliament

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ISLAMABAD — Jubilant anti-government demonstrators in Pakistan are claiming victory after tearing down barricades and occupying a key road outside Parliament, where they are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

PHOTO: Thousands of supporters of Pakistani religious cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri take part in a massive rally in front of The Parliament building in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of protesters armed with wire cutters and backed by cranes broke through barriers protecting Pakistan's parliament and other government buildings Tuesday night, demanding the country's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resign. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
Thousands of supporters of Pakistani religious cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri take part in a massive rally in front of The Parliament building in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. Tens of thousands of protesters armed with wire cutters and backed by cranes broke through barriers protecting Pakistan's parliament and other government buildings Tuesday night, demanding the country's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resign. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

A peaceful and celebratory atmosphere prevailed Wednesday after tens of thousands of protesters entered Islamabad's high-security Red Zone the night before, five days after arriving in the capital from the eastern city of Lahore in convoys.

Famous cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri have led twin rallies calling on Sharif to step down over alleged voting fraud in the election that brought him to office last year in the country's first-ever democratic transfer of power. Sharif's party says he will not quit, while the country's powerful army has called for a negotiated settlement.

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