Central & South Asia

Pakistan's Shias agree to bury their dead

Funeral for 89 killed in latest blast to begin on Wednesday, but many protesters vow to continue appeal for more action.
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2013 22:57

Hazara Shia Muslims in the Pakistani province of Balochistan have agreed to bury the dead from a bombing that killed 89 people, after the government promised to take action against the perpetrators of the weekend attack.

Shia leaders announced late on Tuesday that the funeral will begin at 9:00am local time (04:00GMT) on Wednesday.

They urged people to end the protests, but the appeal was been met with resistance.

The leaders had agreed to call off the sit-ins earlier but protesters had refused to move until it was agreed that the army would start targeted operations against those responsible for the spate of killings.

Saturday's attack was the second bomb targeting the Shia Hazara minority in five weeks in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, which has seen more than 200 deaths, mostly Shias, in the last one month.

People rallied across the country in solidarity with the Hazara community with major cities like Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad witnessing huge protests against the rising sectarian violence.

Al Jazeera's Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from Quetta, said the Hazara community is "angry and defiant" and is demanding the Pakistani military to come to the provincial capital, and go after the mastermind of the attacks.

'More than 100 arrested'

Earlier in the day, the Pakistan information minister said about 170 people had been arrested by the paramilitary Frontier Corps in an ongoing operation to catch the perpetrators.

Speaking in Quetta, Qamar Zaman Kaira said the latest action was expected to make a big difference for security in the region.

Officials said that during the operation they had killed four men in connection with the latest attack.

Police said they had arrested a former provincial minister in connection with the recent deadly attacks in the province.

Rehman Malik, the interior minister, said the government had also replaced the provincial police chief and offered to heavily fortify the Hazara Shia enclave in Quetta.

Tuesday's operation to catch those behind the attacks was carried out on the outskirts of Quetta, where members of the ethnic Hazara minority have been living under siege.


 Inside Story: Pakistan's sectarian tensions

Akbar Hussain Durrani, the home secretary of Balochistan province, and Colonel Maqbool Ahmed, from the Frontier Corps, said the killings and arrests took place during what they called an "ongoing operation".

"Those who were killed were high-profile targeted killers," Durrani said.

"They were involved in the killing of a Shia judge and senior police officers,"

One of the masterminds of Saturday's bombing in the Quetta suburb of Hazara Town was among those in custody, Durrani added.

'Real security'

Intelligence and paramilitary officers also confiscated bomb-making material, weapons, suicide vests and ammunition during the operation, officials said.

Al Jazeera's Imran Khan, reporting from Islamabad, said: "The coming days are going to be important.

"Real security is what the Shia community is demanding. So far, they've got this targeted operation, but will that be enough?"

A similar protest after 95 people were killed by suicide bombers at a Hazara snooker hall in Quetta on January 10 only ended after four days when Islamabad sacked the provincial government and imposed rule by the governor.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a banned armed group, claimed both the attacks in Quetta, a small town where the military and intelligence agencies have a heavy presence.


Al Jazeera and agencies
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