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Shia Muslims demand action on attacks

Anger spreads after 89 die in bombing

Shia Muslims demand action on attacks
Shia mourners at a bridge near Islamabad reporter, Islamabad

February 19, 2013

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Shia Muslim members of the Hazara ethnic group are demanding action after a remote-controlled bomb killed 89 people and wounded more than 200 others in the city of Quetta over the weekend. An estimated 550,00 of Quetta's population of around two million are Hazaras. 

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a banned Sunni militant group, has claimed responsibility for the bombing.

“We demand a targeted operation against Muslims who have sold themselves to terrorist forces from outside," said Muhammad Asghar Askari, deputy secretary general of the Majlis e Wahdat Muslimeen, a Shia political party.

“Our demands also include targeted operations on those mosques and madrassas (Islamic schools) in Balochistan province that have become training camps for terrorists. The state should declare it has failed, and people must be granted licenses to carry weapons for self protection," Asghar said. 

Outrage over the recent violence has galvanized Hazara Shia communities in other parts of the country.

Baton-weilding Hazara students blocked a bridge yesterday afternoon in Islamabad, preventing vehicles from leaving the capital city for six hours, while Shia clerics addressed mourners who gathered nearby. 

Last month the Balochistan assembly was dissolved and governor rule was enacted following the death of 126 Hazaras. Media reports say more than 500 Shia Hazaras were killed last year, mostly in and around Quetta and Karachi.

The Peace and Tolerance Alliance, a coalition of civil society organizations and human rights defenders, also demanded action against the terrorists. 

“The whole nation is in shock over the continuous massacre of the Shia Hazara Community in Quetta," said the group's deputy convener, Samson Salamat, in a recent statement. "It is very unfortunate that banned outfits are operating easily and the state institutions are not taking action to stop their inhumane activities. A concrete policy is required to save the country from this bloodshed."

Balochistan governor Zulfiqar Magsi has called the killing of Hazara Shias a failure of intelligence agencies. “There are two possibilities for the failure of intelligence agencies: We either can't trace the terrorists, or military forces are scared because they think they might become targeted," he told reporters.

Meanwhile, sit-in protests are taking place in Quetta and families of the bombing victims have refused to bury their dead until the army takes over the city.


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