Monday, August 20
Police temporarily suspend mobile phone service in major Pakistan cities in ploy to thwart terrorist attacks
August 20, The U.K.) Telegraph:
Pakistan shuts down mobile phone networks overnight in major cities to prevent Taliban and al-Qaeda attacks as celebrations began for the biggest Muslim festival of the year
The draconian security measure was imposed on Sunday at 8:00 pm, at a time when millions ordinarily telephone friends and relatives with greetings for Eid al-Fitr. Networks were working again on Monday mid-morning.
Karachi and Lahore, Pakistan's two largest cities, and the troubled city of Quetta, in the insurgency-torn province of Baluchistan, were among the places where networks were suspended.
"We regret that it had to be suspended in some cities due to the risk of terrorist attacks," Rehman Malik, the country's interior minister, was quoted as saying by state TV. "We regret inconvenience caused to youths and children."
Terrorists were plotting to target "a few areas of Punjab province", of which Lahore is the capital, the minister said. Sindh province, where Karachi is the capital, and Baluchistan were also targets, he added.
Authorities feared that mobile telephones could be used to coordinate attacks or trigger a remote-controlled bomb.
The Eid festival marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan and, in Pakistan, is accompanied by a three-day public holiday, until Thursday.
The country has been on alert for Eid and security forces stepped up their presence in major cities as celebrations got underway.