BHAKKAR, (The News): In order to ward off any further violence, a strict indefinite curfew that started from 10:00AM has been clamped on Bhakkar and other restive districts on Saturday as the environment continues to remain hostile after sectarian clashes left 11 people dead on Friday, Geo News reported.
According to 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 will remain closed in the areas under curfew.
District Police Officer, Sarfaraz Falki told Geo News that additional contingents of police and Rangers have been deployed in the restive districts.
Earlier on Friday, the violence broke out when a protest march organized by Sunni radical group Ahl-e-Sunnat Waljamaat reached a Shia neighbourhood in the Bhakar district of central Punjab province.
Sources 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 Muslim is rare in Punjab province, though other parts of the country are plagued by near-daily occurrences.
The Sunnis were protesting against the killing of one of their activists, DPO Sarfaraz Falki said.
“The tension started when participants of the protest rally reached a Shia-dominated area,” he added.
“At least 11people have been killed from both sides, the situation is tense and we are deploying more police and Rangers (paramilitary troops).”
The two sides at first shouted slogans at each other, but men on both sides then opened fire, Falki said.
Mumtaz Hussain, a senior government official in the district, confirmed the death toll.
In another incident late Friday, motorcycle gunmen opened fire on a Sunni seminary in Islamabad, killing two people and wounding one, police said.
The motive for the attack was not yet clear but police said security had been stepped up in the capital.