Government and wireless operator officials in Pakistan have confirmed that mobile phone service in portions of the country has been put on hold for security reasons after a series of deadly bombings have disrupted the Islamic holy month of Muharram, the AFP reports.

The attacks are particularly grievous because fighting is prohibited during Muharram. Several fatal blasts occurred earlier this week in Karachi and Rawalpindi, killing dozens of people and wounding many others.

According to the report, Mobilink, the country’s largest wireless operator, said that the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority had asked it to shut its service in Karachi and Quetta on Friday. Carrier PTCL also confirmed the downtime.

Pakistan’s interior minister Rehman Malik explained that the action is meant to “ensure security during and after the Muharram processions”.

The government had previously halted cellular service last week in hopes of disrupting militant communications.

An estimated 425 people have been killed in Pakistan this year in sectarian violence, not including this week’s tragedies, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal. That’s more than twice as many fatalities as last year.

Image credit: Shutterstock