Pakistan: sectarian strife mars Ashura

Celebrations of Muharram, the Shi’ite holy month highlighted by the Ashura festival, saw sectarian violence that left several dead across Pakistan. The government has imposed a curfew and blocked mobile phone services in the capital and nearby Rawalpindi after a Shi’ite procession in the garrison city exploded into clashes with gangs of Sunni militants Nov. 15, leaving seven dead. Three days later, a mob set shops on fire in a Shi’ite district in the northwestern town of Kohat in clashes that left a civilian and a paramilitary officer dead. The northwestern city of Hangu is also under curfew following clashes. In Karachi, a bomb attack injured two as Shi’ites were gathering at a shrine Nov. 13; a second bomb went off as rescue workers arrived, injuring six more. (Reuters, Nov. 18; Geo TV, Nov. 15; AFP, Nov. 14)

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