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Pakistan under security blanket for Muslim 'Eid' festival

08-20-2012 13:40 BJT

ISLAMABAD, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- The law enforcement agencies in Pakistan are on high alert on Monday following reports from the intelligence officials regarding terror threats on the occasion of the Muslim festival of "Eid-ul-Fitr".

Muslims gather to offer Eid al-Fitr prayers at a mosque on the first day of their religious festival in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan, on Aug. 20, 2012. Pakistani Muslims started the three-day celebrations of Eid-ul-Fitr on Monday to mark the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. (Xinhua/Ahmad)

The government has blocked cellular phone services in some major cities to thwart any terror attack on the first day of Eid, being celebrated on Monday, the country's Interior Minister Rehman Malik said.

In an interview with local media on Sunday, he said there are threats of terror attacks in the port city of Karachi, the eastern city of Lahore, Multan in Punjab as well as the southwestern city of Quetta.

Malik said that the mobile service would not be suspended in the whole country, but only in some sensitive areas for few hours and until the special Eid congregations are concluded.

The mobile phone service suspended late Sunday in some big cities, causing problems for the people to exchange Eid greetings.

Officials say that militants routinely use cell phones during attacks and receive instructions from their planners.

Special security arrangements have been taken for Eid prayers, the interior minister said, adding that police and personnel of the paramilitary troops will be deployed outside mosques and open grounds for the special Eid prayers across the country.

An alert has also been declared for some sensitive places in view of threats of attacks by the Taliban militants, he said after presiding over a high level meeting at the Interior Ministry.

He defended the decision to temporarily shut down cellular phone service and asked the citizens to help the security official in maintaining peace on Eid. He said phone service will be restored after the special Eid congregations are concluded.

The interior ministry said that provincial government had requested the federal government to suspend mobile phone service in some sensitive areas for a peaceful Eid festival.

Cellular phone company sources confirmed that they were asked by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to block services in Karachi, Lahore, Multan and Quetta. Services were to remain blocked from 8 p.m. on Sunday till 11 a.m. Monday.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf used their Eid messages to reiterate to make Pakistan a hub of peace and harmony.

President Zardari urged the people to resolve to refrain from all anti-social activities such as sectarianism and extremism.

Prime Minister Ashraf asked the people to keep in mind that incidents of sectarianism and violence like the recent attack on the passenger buses in the northern areas, which killed nearly 20 people, are completely against the teachings of Islam.



Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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