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ISLAMABAD: Cellphone services were temporarily suspended in parts of the federal capital from 12pm to 2:30pm prior to Friday prayers. This is the third such incident to occur in Islamabad within the past month.

A customer service representative (CSR) at a major cellphone service provider told that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) asked the service provider to suspend signals within one kilometre of Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa in Sectors G-6 and G-7, which are adjacent to the mosque and the seminary.

However, telcos suspended services in most parts of the capital, the CSR said.

PTA and Interior Ministry officials told that Lal Masjid administration had called for a protest after Friday prayers due to which security agencies were on high alert. The Interior Ministry, therefore, told the PTA to direct cellphone service providers to suspend services.

Twitter users took to the microblogging site to express their confusion:

A similar suspension of service occurred on Friday Dec 11 in Islamabad due to "security reasons" at the PTA's directive, according to a cellular company CSR.

According to the representative, the authority had asked telecom companies to suspend services during the said time period in G-6, G-7 and F-6 areas of the capital which are adjacent to the Lal Masjid. But most companies terminated services throughout the city, the representative said.

Mobile phone services were suspended in sectors G-6 and G-7 for some time on Friday noon on Nov 27 as well, which coincided with the deadline given by the cleric of Lal Masjid to implement his version of Sharia in the country.