Pakistan imposes new curfews after sectarian clash
Curfew in response to violence from hardline Sunni Muslim group rally
Authorities imposed curfews and deployed troops in two different areas of northwest Pakistan on Monday after three people were killed during a sectarian clash, police said.
The violence occurred in Kohat city, where members of a hardline Sunni Muslim group, Ahle Sunnat Waljamaat, were holding a rally to protest a sectarian clash in Rawalpindi city on Friday that killed 10 people, including at least eight Sunnis, said police officer Fazal Naeem Khan.
Shooting broke out during Monday’s rally, killing three people, including a policeman and two civilians, said Khan. It was unclear if the civilians who were killed were members of Ahle Sunnat Waljamaat. The Sunnis then clashed with police and Shiites, and several shops were set on fire, Khan said.
Authorities responded by deploying troops and imposing a curfew in Kohat district and neighboring Hangu district, Khan said.
The development came shortly after officials on Monday lifted a curfew in Rawalpindi that had been imposed after the clashes there on Friday, said police officer Mohammad Amir. Army troops will continue to patrol the city for several more days, and there is still a ban on more than four people assembling in one place, said Amir.
The sectarian clash in Rawalpindi occurred when hundreds of Shiites were holding a procession to mark Ashoura, one of the sect’s most important religious occasions. The Shiites clashed with members of an Islamic seminary affiliated with Ahle Sunnat Waljamaat.
Ten people were killed in the clash and 56 were wounded, said the Rana Sanaullah, the law minister for Punjab province, where Rawalpindi is located.
At least eight of the dead were Sunni Muslims. The identities of the other two were not made clear.
Outbursts of sectarian violence occur regularly in Pakistan. Hard-liners from the Sunni majority who consider Shiites to be heretics have targeted the sect with bombs and shootings, with Shiite attacks on Sunnis less common, at least in recent years.