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Clerics demand protection after attacks

Mourners refuse to bury bombing victims as opposition party stages hunger strike

Clerics demand protection after attacks
Shi'ite mourners protest with the bodies of bombing victims reporter, Quetta

January 12, 2013

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Shi’ite clerics have urged their followers to join peaceful protests in the wake of the killing of more than a hundred people in coordinated suicide bombings on Thursday.

“Come out of your houses against this massacre. The freezing cold has shaken the whole world except our rulers. This is a test of our patience,” said Allama Raja Nasir Abbas Jaffari, head of the Shia Majlis Wahdat e Muslimeen (MWM).

He made the appeal last night to families of the bombing victims who have occupied Alamdar Road in Quetta, where one suicide bomber targeted a pool hall in the majority Shia neighborhood, and another targeted first responders and journalists.

“I urge the president to disqualify our cowardly chief minister who is presently abroad. He is also our murderer,” Jaffari said. 

Since the bomb attack, mourning Shi’ite Muslims have demanded army intervention in Balochistan province by blocking Alamdar with the shrouded coffins of the dead.

The bodies have since been relocated to an imambargah, or Shi’ite religious hall. 

“We shall not bury our dead until our province is handed over to the army. There is no other option”, said Bostan Ali Khushtnand, one of the mourners who braved seven degree Celsius temperatures to join the protest.

Khushtnand spent the night sitting beside the coffins of three young relatives, during which he says he read the Qu’ran.

“Temperatures dropped further during the night when it started raining but we did not move and kept our heads down. None of us looked for shelter. We are prepared for bullets and bombings.”

According to a recent report by the MWM, nearly 800 Shia Muslims have been killed since the ruling Pakistan People’s Party gained power in 2008.

The group claims that Balochistan province ranks first in numbers of dead with 156 killed in targeted attacks, including two religious scholars who were beheaded.

“We are witnessing the dawn of a new holocaust. None of the government officials have contacted us so far. Our provincial members are intoxicated with power and corruption”, said Abdul Khaliq Hazara of the Hazara Democratic Party.

Party leaders have started a sit-in and hunger strike to demand protection for the province’s Shia communities.

“The hunger strike is scheduled for 72 hours and we await federal notice to start an army operation against the terrorists, most of whom are supported by provincial ministers”, Hazara said.

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