One killed, six hurt as Pakistani Shiite Muslims protest text books

One person was killed and six were injured when Shiite Muslims demanding changes to religious text books clashed with security forces in Pakistan's northern city of Gilgit, hospital officials said.

The authorities clamped a curfew on the city Thursday amid brewing anger among Shiite Muslims over school curricula, which they say favour the rival Sunni community, but failed to stop clashes between police and mobs.

"Yes, one Wajid Ali has died of his injuries," deputy medical superintendent of the city's District Headquarters Hospital, doctor Israr Ahmed, told AFP.

He said six other people were admitted to the hospital, including two paramilitary soldiers and two policemen. The condition of a wounded civilian was serious, he said.

Shiites, who make up some 20 percent of Pakistan's Muslims, are angry that some school text books only teach methods of prayer followed by the rival Sunni majority.

They have demanded that Shiite students are not taught Sunni rituals.

Tension has been simmering in the town since last year and two days ago the Shiite community announced a mass protest on Thursday, leading to the curfew.

The demonstrators staged the protest in defiance of the curfew and later attacked a police training centre and the state-run radio station, both on Gilgit's outskirts, prompting the police to open fire.

Some also tried to set ablaze a vehicle belonging to the radio station, residents said.

At least three people were injured in an exchange of gunfire in the city's Khomer neighbourhood, they said.

"In view of the prevailing law and order situation the local administration called out the army and a curfew has been imposed within the municipal limits of Gilgit city," a statement from the local administration announced.

Dozens of people were arrested for violating the curfew, including eight Shiite leaders, the administration said.

Gilgit, some 250 kilometers (188 miles) northwest of Islamabad, is the gateway to Pakistan's spectacular mountains in the Karakoram and Himalayan ranges.

Tensions between Shiites and Sunnis, whose supporters have killed more than 4,000 people in over two decades of bloodshed, erupted in southern port city Karachi this week after the assassination of a prominent Sunni cleric and a suicide attack on a packed Shiite mosque which killed 21 worshippers.