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Pakistan celebrates Eid amid tight security

Millions of Pakistanis offered prayers and made traditional animal sacrifices on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

india Updated: Jan 01, 2007 12:35 IST

Millions of Pakistanis on Monday offered prayers and made traditional animal sacrifices on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha Monday amid tight security, police and security officials said.

Security was stepped up in the capital Islamabad and all major cities as people gathered at mosques and open air services, with thousands of armed extra police guarding places of worship and commercial areas.

President General Pervez Musharraf and senior officials offered prayers at Army Stadium in Rawalpindi, the garrison city near capital Islamabad, while Premier Shaukat Aziz led prayers at the giant Faisal Mosque in Islamabad, according to national television.

In a message issued on the eve of Eid, Musharraf said Pakistan was facing problems like terrorism and extremism and urged the nation to forge unity and brotherhood.

"We are in far greater need now to promote and follow high values like the spirit of sacrifice, brotherhood, mutual accommodation, harmony and affection to overcome such problems," Musharraf said.

Musharraf's Pakistan became a key ally in the US-led "war on terror" after abandoning its support for Afghanistan's hardline Taliban regime in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Islamic extremists opposed to the US invasion of Afghanistan have twice tried to kill Musharraf.

Other Eid services were held across much of the country including in the capital of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, Muzaffarabad, and in other areas hit by a devastating earthquake in October 2005.

Pakistan's conservative North West Frontier Province and in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan marked Eid at the weekend due to discord between senior clerics over the sighting of the new moon and hence the timing of the rites.

Eid al-Adha commemorates the prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son on God's orders — he was later told to spare the boy and kill a ram — and begins during the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.