Pakistani residents gather near burning shops at a market following clashes during an Ashura procession in Rawalpindi on November 15, 2013. PHOTO: AFP
RAWALPINDI: Authorities have imposed a curfew for 24 hours in parts of Rawalpindi after sectarian clashes erupted at a Muharram 10 procession near Fawara Chowk, that left at least eight people dead and over 80 injured, Express News reported.
Considering the hapless situation, Commissioner Rawalpindi and IG Punjab had requested the authorities to impose a curfew. Reports indicate that cellular services in Rawalpindi might also remain suspended for two additional days.
The 24 hour curfew has been imposed within the the limits of 19 Rawalpindi police stations. The curfew will also extend to Rawal Town and Potohar Town.
Rawalpindi city police and a large number of army troops are now patrolling various areas in the city.
The tragedy occurred as mob turned against the police in the procession passing through Raja Bazaar in Pindi.
As Shia muslims massed to mourn, a group of miscreants at 3:00pm reportedly snatched guns from police personnel installed in the area for security, and opened fire.
As panic spread, unknown people set a portion of the cloth market in Raja Bazaar on fire.
The situation soon got out of hand and the army was called in to control the situation.
“The clashes started when a sermon was being delivered from a Sunni mosque on the way of the procession route. The infuriated Shias attacked the mosque and also put a cloth market at fire,” police official Waseem Ahmed claimed.
The Express News team, along with other media personnel were assaulted by unknown men.
A large contingent of fire brigades, rescue teams and as many as six army companies were summoned to control the situation.
According to Rescue 1122 sources‚ the injured have been admitted in District Headquarters Hospital.
Reports also indicate that a mosque and madrassah were burned down. Ten buildings are known to have been destroyed.
Although the firing stopped, the fire at Raja Bazaar could not be extinguished for a long time.
Chief Minister takes notice
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has taken a notice of the incident and asked the City Commissioner and RPO Rawalpindi to submit report.