29 Oct 2012

Pakistan Blocked Mobile Networks during Muslim Festival

Pakistan authorities blocked mobile phone networks during the Muslim Festival on Saturday to prevent terrorist attacks, according to the AFP.

Authorities feared the festival of Eid al-Adha will be struck by Taliban and Al-Qaeda supporters. They may have used mobile phones to better coordinate attacks or trigger a remote-controlled bomb on Muslim congregations in the capital Islamabad and several other cities.

"We have received 13 intelligence alerts" about security threats, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Friday, as quoted by the AFP. "Mobile phone service will remain suspended for four hours from 6:00 am (0100 GMT) when people gather for Eid prayers in mosques and at open places. It will not be a countrywide shutdown. It will be partial, only in cities and pockets considered sensitive.”

The Interior Minister also said he regretted the "inconvenience" for mobile users, but several intelligence reports indicated terrorists were plotting to target multiple cities in several provinces such as Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which borders Afghanistan.

Since the 9/11 attacks at World Trade Center and the 2001 American invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan was under heavy terrorist fire, with thousands of civilians killed by suicide bombers in mosques or in open space attacks.