Apprehensive of Wednesday’s attacks on ImamBargahs in Rawalpindi and Karachi being a prelude to more blasts over the weekend on the 9th and 10th days of Muharram, Pakistan on Friday decided to block mobile services in nearly 50 cities of the country for three days.
While mobile services were blocked in Karachi, Quetta and a sector of Islamabad all of Friday afternoon, the ban will be longer and more widespread on Saturday and Sunday.
According to Interior Minister Rehman Malik, cellular services would be blocked in 49 cities from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on both days. Also, pillion riding has been banned across the country.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan — which claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attacks in Karachi and Rawalpindi — told dawn.com that the decision to block cellular services would have no impact on their plans to attack Shias during Muharram. TTP spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan was quoted as stating that the organisation does not use mobile phones as detonators as claimed by the government.
Meanwhile, there were reports of two blasts across the country in the evening. While the blast at Lakki Marwat in Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa took place near an ImamBargah when a suicide bomber tried to penetrate a security cordon, the second blast in Gilgit was not targeted at the Shia community. No loss of life was reported from either blast as per preliminary reports.