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Pakistan Deploys 16,000 Security Troops For Shi'ite Holy Month

A security guard with a metal detector stands at the entrance of the shrine of Hasan-al-Maroof Sultan Manghopir, better known as the crocodile shrine, on the outskirts of Karachi on October 13.

Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar has announced the deployment of more than 16,000 security forces across Pakistan in a bid to prevent sectarian violence during the Shi'ite holy month of Moharram.

Nisar said on October 14 that about 10,000 soldiers from Pakistan's army and another 6,300 paramilitary troops, including personnel from the Rangers and Frontier Corps, will be involved in the security operations.

Moharram, which begins on October 15, sees Shi'ite Muslims hold gatherings and processions to mourn the martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Imam Hussain.

The celebrations are frequently marred by sectarian violence that has been rising in recent years.

In 2013, clashes between Sunni and Shi'a in the garrison city of Rawalpindi near Islamabad led to at least 11 deaths during Moharram.

Violence by Sunni hard-liners against Shi'a, who make up about 20 percent of Pakistan's 200 million people, has claimed thousands of lives across the country during the past decade.

Based on reporting by AFP and