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Pakistan suspends mobile service over security fears

KARACHI: Pakistan suspended mobile phone services in major cities yesterday to prevent terror attacks during month of Muharram, officials said.
Mobile and wireless phone services were temporarily blocked in the commercial capital Karachi, the southwestern city of Quetta and in parts of the capital.
It is the second time Pakistan has shut down mobile networks during Muharram. A suicide bomber killed 23 people and wounded 62 others in Rawalpindi on Thursday, the deadliest bombing in Pakistan for five months.
“We have shut our service in Karachi and Quetta on the instructions of the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority from 1 p.m. (0800 GMT) to midnight,” said an official of a mobile company.
Official of another mobile company said wireless phones had also been turned off at the government’s instructions.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik announced the phone suspension earlier, saying it was intended to ensure security during and month of Muharram.
Southern province Sindh, where Karachi is the capital, also declared yesterday a public holiday for security reasons.
Most businesses and shops were closed in the city and roads were deserted.
In December 2009, a suicide bomber killed 43 people in Karachi during month of Muharram.
Pakistan says 35,000 people have been killed as a result of terrorism since the 9/11 attacks and the 2001 US-led invasion of neighboring Afghanistan.