The government of Pakistan has suspended mobile networks in many parts of the country, although the Taliban says that will not keep it from bombing its targets. Government officials said they suspended cell services for the Muharram holiday because of concerns about security. This is the second time the government has done this for the month of Muharram, and officials said it’s because militants often use their mobile phones to detonate bombs. One government official said as many as 90 percent of the bombings carried out in Pakistan are done so through cell phones.
A correspondent for Dawn.com spoke with a Taliban spokesperson Friday who claimed that they don’t use mobile phones to detonate bombs. The spokesperson told Dawn.com that shutting down mobile networks will not prevent them from successfully hitting their targets in the next few days.
Government officials say they will restore services Friday at midnight but then continue to suspend services starting early Saturday morning. The six areas of Pakistan that are being affected by the shutdown are the districts of Kohat, Mansehra, Haripur, Tank, Dera Ismali Khan and Peshawar.
On Thursday 23 people died and 62 others were injured in a suicide bombing at a Shia procession. It was Pakistan’s deadliest bombing in five months. Today has been declared a holiday in Sindh, a southern province in the country, because of concerns about security.
The government also said mobile networks will be shut down during Ashura, and officials will not allow motorcycles near sensitive targets around Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province. This year Ashura will be on Sunday, and in the past the holiday has been a major target for violence from extremists.