By Julian Pecquet - 09/20/12 03:52 PM EDT
The State Department is warning U.S. citizens to “defer all non-essential travel to Pakistan” in the wake of anti-American protests fueled by an online video that denigrates Islam.
The travel warning updates last month's advisory that merely warned Americans against travel to the country. Hundreds of demonstrators protested in the capital, Islamabad, on Thursday and tried to approach the U.S. Embassy before being repelled by police armed with tear gas and batons, The Associated Press reports.
The protests are expected to be even larger on Friday, Muslim's traditional day of prayer. The Pakistani government has called a national holiday so people can protest, the AP reports.
“Protests have taken place across Pakistan against the United States, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and NATO,” says the travel warning, which doesn't mention the "Innocence of Muslims" film. “There have also been widespread demonstrations and large political rallies condemning drone strikes, Pakistan's ongoing energy crisis and Pakistan's July 3, 2012, decision to reopen NATO transit routes to Afghanistan. These protests and demonstrations are likely to continue. U.S. citizens in Pakistan are strongly urged to avoid protests and large gatherings.”