Pakistan: 11 dead, 100 injured in kite flying festival

At least 11 people died and more than 100 people were injured at an annual spring festival in eastern Pakistan celebrated with the flying of thousands of colourful kites, officials said today.

The deaths and injuries were caused by stray bullets, sharpened kite-strings, electrocution and people falling off rooftops yesterday at the conclusion of the two-day Basant festival, said Ruqia Bano, spokeswoman for emergency service in the city of Lahore.

The festival is regularly marred by casualties caused by sharp kite strings or celebratory gunshots fired into the air.

Kite flyers often use strings made of wire or coated with ground glass to try to cross and cut a rival’s string or damage the other kite, often after betting on the outcome.

Authorities temporarily lifted a ban on kite flying that was imposed last year following a string of deaths at the festival.

Lahore Mayor Mian Amier Mahmood said that the two-day permission to fly kites ended yesterday and the ban has been re-imposed.

Police arrested more than 700 people for using sharpened kite strings or firing guns and seized 282 illegally held weapons during this year’s festival, said Aftab Cheema, a senior Lahore police officer.

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