Islamabad: A strict indefinite curfew has been clamped in Bhakkar and other restive districts of Pakistan`s Punjab province, a day after deadly sectarian clashes claimed at least 11 lives.
According to local police officials, the curfew will remain enforced until further orders in Bhakkar, Darya Khan, Kotla Jam, Panj Garaeen, and Kahawar Kalan as these districts are most vulnerable to violence.
The Executive District Officer (EDO) Education Qazi Zahoor Hussain said that all the institutes would remain closes in the areas under curfew.
District Police Officer Sarfaraz Falki was quoted by Geo News as saying that additional contingents of police and Rangers had been deployed in the restive districts.
Yesterday, violence broke out when a protest march organised by Sunni radical group Ahl-e-Sunnat Waljamaat reached a Shia neighbourhood in the Bhakkar district in central Punjab.
Reports said the rally was going to Darya Khan from Bhakkar when some people opened fire on the participants at Kotla Jam, to which some of the armed rally participants retaliated.
As result, six people from both the sects were killed on the spot while six others were critically injured of whom five later succumbed to their wounds taking the total death toll to 11.
Sectarian violence between Pakistan`s Sunni and Shia Muslims is rare in Punjab province, though some other parts of the country are plagued by near-daily occurrences.
The Sunnis were protesting against the killing of one of their activists, DPO Falki said.
"The tension started when participants of the protest rally reached a Shiite-dominated area," he added.
"At least 11 people have been killed from both sides, the situation is tense and we are deploying more police and Rangers (paramilitary troops)," he said.
The two sides at first shouted slogans at each other, but men on both sides then opened fire, Falki said.