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Last Updated: Monday, 26 February 2007, 15:20 GMT
Pakistan kite festival 'kills 10'
Pakistan protestors
The death of a young boy during the festival triggered angry protests
At least 10 people, a number of them children, have been killed during a kite-flying festival in the Pakistani province of Punjab, police say.

Stray bullets and sharp twine were among the causes of the deaths during the annual Basant festival.

The Pakistan Supreme Court banned kite-flying in 2005 after nine people were killed during festivities in 2004.

But the ban was lifted for 15 days in 2007 after the Punjab government promised to take preventive measures.

More than 700 people were arrested over the past two days for using illegal weapons and sharpened twine during the festival, police officials in Lahore told the Associated Press news agency.

Throat slashed

While the Supreme Court had lifted the ban between 24 February and 10 March, the Punjab government only allowed the festival to be celebrated on 24 and 25 February.

Lahore Mayor Mian Aamer Mahmoud told AP that permission ended on Sunday and the ban would then be reapplied.

Kite flying in Pakistan
Competitors can use a dozen kites during the course of a day

Despite this, there were numerous incidents in which people were killed or injured during the two-day long celebrations.

Dozens of people had been hurt in addition to at least 10 people killed, Lahore's police chief Malik Iqbal told the BBC.

Fatalities included an 11-year-old boy, who had his throat slashed by sharpened twine, Pakistan's leading English newspaper, Dawn reported.

A 16-year-old girl also suffered a similar fate, AP reported.

The youngest victim was a six-year-old boy who was struck in the head by celebratory gunfire outside his home in Lahore, the Dawn newspaper said.

Celebratory firing and use of sharpened twine had been strictly prohibited by the Supreme court in its conditional repeal of the ban on the festival.

They remained the principal cause of the deaths and injuries, which were also caused by electrocution and falls.

Police chief Iqbal said deaths caused by gunshots would be treated as murder.

Basant, which means saffron, is usually celebrated on rooftops and the fierce competition has led to the use of twine with metal and glass to have the extra edge.

The festival, an annual low-key tradition to herald the approach of spring in the Punjab, has become a high-profile money spinner involving celebrities, corporate sponsorships and much media attention.

Kite flying at the Pakistan festival

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04 Apr 06 |  South Asia
Kite flyers arrested in Pakistan
12 Mar 06 |  South Asia
Pakistan province kite-flying ban
10 Mar 06 |  South Asia
Lahore's kite festival kicks off
06 Feb 05 |  South Asia
Kite deaths mar Pakistan festival
15 Feb 04 |  South Asia
Kite deaths spark ban in Lahore
25 Jun 03 |  South Asia
Pakistan tackles killer kites
10 Jun 03 |  South Asia

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