Pakistan's Punjab province on Thursday witnessed a powerful explosion during a Muharram procession killing at least two, including a seven-year-old girl, and wounding 25 people, senior police officials said.
Videos circulating on social media showed people running around in panic after the blast and ambulances rushing injured persons to the hospital.
The incident took place in Bahawalnagar, some 260 kilometres from Lahore when a Shia procession was heading to an Imambargah as part of the annual Ashura commemoration.
The senior police officer said that apparently a man threw grenades at the procession despite high security.
"Two persons including a seven-year-old girl Maheen and 20-year-old Salman lost their lives while over 25 were injured," he said.
He said the suspect threw grenades when the procession passed by the Jamaia Masjid Mohajir Colony at 10 am this morning.
"Police have arrested the suspect on the spot," he said.
A senior police official from Multan also said the police had arrested the man who threw the grenade on the Ashura procession.
"He is in police custody and investigations will be carried out to find out his links and contacts as well," he said.
Rescuers have shifted the injured to district headquarters hospital Bahawalnagar where the condition of five of them is said to be critical.
Another senior officer of the Punjab government confirmed the death of two persons and scores of injures in the attack and said it was a sensitive matter that is why the police and the government were not issuing any statements.
"Ashura processions are underway in the country and we don't want to create panic through this tragic news," he said.
Opposition Senator Sehar Kamran condemned the attack on the Shia procession and termed it a "cracker attack" and prayed for the recovery of those who were injured.
Bahawalnagar was trending on Twitter on Thursday with people posting videos of the incident, even as mobile services remained suspended in Pakistan's major cities, including Karachi, Hyderabad, Quetta, and Sukkur to avoid any untoward incident during the Ashura processions.
Shiite Muslims took out processions across Pakistan amid tight security arrangements on Thursday, commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Hussain on Muharram 10.
The annual commemoration mourns the death of Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein, one of the most revered figures of Shiite Muslims.
Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi urged citizens in their separate messages to ensure compliance with coronavirus standard operating procedures.
"Imam Hussain became a symbol of force against falsehood and strength for all movements fighting against tyranny in the times to come," Radio Pakistan quoted Khan as saying.
The president urged the nation to rise above hatred, malice, and sectarianism in line with the teachings of Imam Hussain, the state broadcaster reported.