TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Shiites lash out as bombing kills 81

Daily Photo Galleries

By The Associated Press
Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013, 9:03 p.m.
 

QUETTA, Pakistan — Members of the Pakistani Shiite Hazara community on Sunday threatened to hold widespread protests if the government did not arrest within 48 hours the people responsible for a bombing that killed 81 people in a southwestern city.

Saturday's blast at a produce market in Quetta underlined the precarious situation for Shiites living in a majority Sunni country where many extremist groups don't consider them real Muslims. Some 160 people were wounded in the blast.

Most of the dead and wounded were Hazaras, an ethnic group that migrated from Afghanistan more than a century ago.

Shiite Muslims, including Hazaras, have often been targeted by Sunni extremists in Baluchistan province, of which Quetta is the capital, as well as in the southern city of Karachi and northwestern Pakistan.

The vice chairman of the Hazara Democratic Party, a political group representing Hazaras, said Sunday that the party was giving the government 48 hours to find those responsible for the attack and arrest them.

“Otherwise, the Hazara community will start a protest in Pakistan and the world over,” said Azizullah Hazara.

Graves had been dug but at least 60 of the dead from the Saturday evening blast still hadn't been buried Sunday evening. Religious and community leaders were set to meet Monday morning to decide whether to bury their dead or to protest the bombing by refusing to bury the bodies as they did after a similar attack in January.

After 86 people died in that bombing, which hit a billiards hall, prompting Shiites to camp out in the street for four days alongside the coffins of their loved ones. Eventually the country's prime minister ordered a shake-up in the regional administration, putting the local governor in charge of the whole province.

“So far, we are not going home. We are not burying the dead,” said Dawood Agha, a Shiite leader in Quetta.

The violence touched a chord among Pakistanis elsewhere in the country, with small-scale protests being held in Islamabad, Karachi and at least 12 other cities.

At the Islamabad rally, hundreds of Shiites and various civil rights groups demanded the government crackdown on the al-Qaida-linked militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which has claimed responsibility for the attack.

“We all know it is LeJ,” said Hasan Raza, a Shiite activist. “We want the government to act now and take action against the terrorist group.”

The large-scale attack comes as the government, headed by the Pakistan People's Party, is preparing for elections this spring, and it adds to the widespread perception that the government has done little to improve security or the economy during its five-year tenure.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read World

  1. Fate of anti-government protest lies in Pakistani military’s hands
  2. Toronto mayor, as volunteer football coach, made players roll in geese droppings, school board papers allege
  3. Russian columns enter Ukraine; leader urges calm
  4. China tells U.S. to cut back surveillance
  5. Russian tanks inside Ukraine
  6. U.N. fears 20,000 will be infected with Ebola
  7. U.S. student’s body found beside forest in Jerusalem
  8. ISIS waterboarded Foley, other hostages
  9. A flavor out of favor: Dog meat fades in S. Korea
  10. UN: Ebola cases could eventually reach 20,000
  11. Interpol probes Thailand’s ‘Baby Factory’
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.