Islamabad: At least 10 people, including some students of a Sunni seminary, were killed in sectarian violence that erupted in the Pakistani garrison city of Rawalpindi today after a clash between two groups during a Muharram procession.
A curfew was imposed and army soldiers were called out to control the situation, media reports said.
At least 10 people were killed in sectarian violence, Dunya News channel reported. About 20 others, including several policemen, were injured in the violence.
The exact cause of the clash could not immediately be ascertained though media reports said it began after someone fired at a Shia procession in Raja Bazar area of Rawalpindi.
Some reports said Shias attacked Sunnis from a madrassa for insulting them. Some students from the seminary were allegedly burnt alive by a mob, reports said.
At least 100 shops in Faisal Cloth Market of Rawalpindi was set on fire and members of the two communities pelted stones at each other, police and witnesses said.
An emergency was declared in the city`s hospitals. Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said 80 per cent of Muharram processions in Pakistan`s most populous province were conducted peacefully.
Though tension prevailed in Rawalpindi, Shia mourners taking part in processions proceeded to their destinations.
The Shias were observing Ashura, which commemorates the death of Prophet Mohammed`s grandson. Shias have often been targeted by terrorist groups during Muharram in recent years.
Today`s violence occurred even though strict security arrangements were put in place across Pakistan and cellular phone services were shut down in many cities to prevent violence.
The clampdown was enforced by thousands of security personnel. The arrangements were stricter this year because of threats posed by militants in the wake of the killing of Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone attack and Nasiruddin Haqqani, a senior leader of the Haqqani network, in Islamabad.