Islamabad: Shi`ites in Pakistan on Saturday demanded more protection from the government even as they observed Ashura amid tight security, a day after militant group LeJ carried out a suicide bombing on a Muharram procession in the Sindh province that claimed 24 lives.
Elaborate security arrangements were made across Pakistan with hundreds and thousands of security personnel being deployed and mobile and Internet services shut down to ward off any attack by militants during Ashura, the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram, marking martyrdom of Imam Hussain, grandson of Prophet Mohammad.
More than 400,000 security personnel have been deployed to provide security to Shiites. The authorities have also installed security gates, CCTV and drone cameras and other gadgets to monitor the movement of processions, a security official said.
"We have also suspended mobile phone and Internet services in 65 cities and towns to ward off remote control bombing and stall fast communications by militants," he said.
The move came after government failed to stop a suicide bomber from entering a procession of mourners and detonating explosives in Jacobabad in Sindh province yesterday.
Sindh Home Minister Suhail Anwar Siyal said today that the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) has claimed responsibility for yesterday's suicide attack.
"According to the information I received, LeJ has claimed responsibility for the attack," he was quoted as saying by Dawn News.
The home minister said two separate committees have been formed to investigate the attack.
Police said the death toll in the bombing had gone up to 24 with over 40 injured. The bombing came a day after another suicide bomber attacked a Shi`ite mosque in Balochistan province, killing 11 people.
Angry Shi`ites clashed with the police in Jacobabad after the attack. A Shi`ite leader demanded government to provide more security.
Allama Amin Shaheedi, a prominent leader, said the government has failed to provide protection to his people and asked for "measures" to stop the killings of innocent people.
Undeterred by the threats of bombing, hundreds and thousands of Shiites participated in the processions of Ashura in different parts of the country.
The biggest processions were seen in Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi, where all roads included in the route of the procession had been closed.