Pakistan imposes curfew in violence-hit Rawalpindi

Sectarian clashes in Pakistan leave at least 8 killed as troops are deployed to restore order

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Pakistan imposed on Saturday a curfew in the city of Rawalpindi after sectarian clashes left eight people killed and 40 others wounded.

“A curfew has been imposed in Rawalpindi city to avert further violence following the incidents on Friday,” Waseem Ahmed, an official at the main police control room, told Agence France-Presse.

“The curfew will remain until midnight on Saturday. The whole city has been closed down,” he said.

The clashes occurred in Rawalpindi when a procession by Shiite Muslims to mark the most important day of the mourning month of Muharram coincided with a sermon at a nearby Sunni mosque.

Both sides clashed and security forces fired gunshots, according to AFP.

Troops were later deployed in the city and a curfew was imposed as soldiers patrolled the streets to prevent protesters from creating violence in nearby cities.

Hospital officials said that some of those who were wounded suffered from gunshot wounds.

“So far we can confirm the death of eight people from the violence. We received a total of 44 injured people and 13 of them had gunshot wounds,” Qasim Khan, a doctor at Rawalpindi’s district hospital, told AFP.

Sectarian strife is not new to Pakistan; Sunni militant groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Taliban have in the past attacked gatherings of Shiites, who constitute some 20 percent of the country’s overwhelmingly Muslim population.

(With AFP)