Toll in sectarian clash in Pakistani Punjab rises to 12
Lahore: The death toll in a clash between Sunni and Shia groups in Pakistan's Punjab province rose to 12 today even as authorities imposed indefinite curfew in the violence-hit areas.
The clash between the radical Sunni group, Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), and the Shia Majlis Wahdat-ul-Muslimeen (MWM) erupted yesterday when a protest march organised by ASWJ reached a Shia neighbourhood in Bhakkar district.
A man named Mohib Hussain succumbed to injuries in hospital today, taking the toll to 12. "The clash at Hussani Chowk and other areas of Bhakkar left 12 people dead and seven injured," district police chief Sarfraz Falki said.
Authorities imposed curfew in Bhakkar and adjacent areas, 400 km from provincial capital Lahore. Police officials said the curfew will remain in force until further orders.
District administration official Qazi Zahoor Hussain said all institutions in areas under curfew will remain closed.
Falki said additional contingents of police and paramilitary forces had been deployed to control the situation.
ASWJ chief Mualana Ahmed Ludhianvi, also the head of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, was stopped in Layyah district while trying to go to to Bhakkar to lead the funeral prayers of Sunnis killed in the clash.
The ASWJ is considered a front for the Sipah-e-Sahaba.
Ludhanvi claimed Sunnis killed in the clash would not be buried until authorities allowed him to offer funeral prayers.
The Shia and Sunni groups both claimed they had lost more members in the clash. However, independent sources told PTI that both groups had lost almost an equal number of men.
Members of the two groups exchanged fire after an altercation yesterday when ASWJ activists were protesting the killing of a worker named Ghulam Muhammad.