RAWALPINDI: A curfew was imposed in Rawalpindi on Friday after eight people were killed and a market was burnt in a clash between two groups in relation to the harassment of an Ashura procession in Rawalpindi's Raja Bazar area, DawnNews reported.
The curfew was imposed in the city keeping in view the tense situation, a spokesman for the Punjab government was quoted by TV news channels as saying.
Authorities also decided that mobile phone services would remain suspended in the city until Sunday.
The Jaffria Alliance condemned the violence in Rawalpindi and demanded from the provincial government to bring to justice those who had resorted to gunfire.
A cloth market situated in Rawalpindi's Raja Bazaar was set on fire by unknown persons while members of rival groups resorted to stone-pelting and firing.
“The clashes started when a sermon was being delivered from a mosque which was on the procession route,” Waseem Ahmed, a police official told AFP.
The clash triggered a stampede in the procession which caused more casualties.
“The death toll from the clashes has reached to eight people and 44 others are injured,” Qasim Khan, a doctor at Rawalpindi's district hospital, told AFP.
“Among 44 wounded people brought to our hospital, 13 had gunshot wounds,” Khan said.
He said five wounded people were shifted to another hospital.
The violence prompted Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to take notice of the incident and also seek a report from officials.
Police officer Afzal Hussain told AP earlier that participants of a procession beat to death three men from a seminary in Rawalpindi for insulting them as their procession passed the religious school.
The procession members dragged the harassers out of the seminary after hearing the shouted insults and beat them to death, Hussain said.
They also set several shops outside the seminary on fire, he said.
Police tried to stop the clash, but officers were wounded as the two sides threw stones at each other, Hussain said.
All fire brigades in the city were deployed to put out the fire.
An army unit based in Rawalpindi was called in which eventually reached the scene and took control of the situation.