Pakistan To Suspend Phone Network Over Security Fears

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Pakistan's interior minister has said the government will suspend mobile phone services in parts of the country over the next two days to prevent attacks against Shi'ite Muslims during the holy month of Muharram.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the suspension was intended to ensure security during religious processions, which have seen deadly attacks this week.

Reports said mobile and wireless services were temporarily blocked in the commercial capital, Karachi, the southwestern city of Quetta, and in parts of the capital.

Muharram culminates on November 25 with Ashura, when Pakistani Shi'ites commemorate the seventh-century death of Imam Hussein, Prophet Muhammad's grandson.

Sunni extremists often target Shi'a during Muharram, and especially on Ashura, frequently using cell phones to detonate bombs.

A suicide bomber killed 23 people and wounded more than 60 at a Shi'ite procession in Rawalpindi on November 22, with another death ascribed to another attack the same day in Karachi.

Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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