Radical Cleric's Funeral in Lahore Draws Huge Crowds.

Tens of thousands of mourners attended the funeral Saturday of a hardline Pakistani cleric in the eastern city of Lahore, defying a government ban on large public gatherings in the wake of rising COVID-19 cases in the country.

Khadim Hussain Rizvi, 54, died of cardiac arrest on Thursday, just days after leading a violent protest march to the capital, Islamabad, against the publication in France of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

Daily coronavirus infections have risen in Pakistan this month, and the government banned big events and meetings as it declared the country was witnessing a "second wave" after a three-month lull in cases.

Official data released on Saturday showed 2,843 people had tested positive for the virus and 42 had died during the last 24 hours - both figures the highest for a day since July.

Despite the coronavirus curbs, tens of thousands turned out to mourn Rizvi, and organizers of the funeral said the government had not told them to limit the gathering.

Government officials did not respond to a request for comment about the funeral, which wreaked havoc in Lahore as cellphone services were shut down and major roads blocked for security reasons.

(Reuters)

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