Pakistan Observer

Quetta protesters seek army deployment

Quetta protesters seek army deployment

‘No’ to bury victims till arrest of culprits; Nationwide rallies against tragedy

Staff Reporter

Monday, February 18, 2013 - Quetta—After Saturday’s bloodshed in Quetta, the Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) on Sunday gave a 48 hour ultimatum to Balochistan government to kick off a ‘targeted operation’ and hunt down the culprits behind Kirani road blast.

Addressing a news conference, Vice Chairman HDP called upon Governor Balochistan to order an operation “otherwise protest will be held outside the Balochistan High Court on daily basis.”

“People of Hazara are being eliminated through a well-planned target killing and if this didn’t stop we will be justified in taking any step,” he said. “This terror incident in Quetta would not have taken place had the government unmasked culprits of last month’s killings.”

Reports said the death toll from bombing in Quetta climbed to 83. The figure could rise because 20 people were critically wounded in the attack in a main bazaar at Hazara Town.

In a statement on Sunday, Azizullah Hazara said that the community would also stage protest in Europe, Australia and outside the United Nations.

The HDP leader demanded the government to make arrangement to shift the injured of the blast to Karachi and outside the country for better treatment.

“We are demanding the city be handed over to the army so that the killing of Hazara Shiites can be stopped,” protesters said. They said, we are not going to bury the blast victims till the culprits are arrested.

Most of the dead and wounded were Hazaras, an ethnic group that migrated from Afghanistan over a century ago. Shiite Muslims, including Hazaras, have often been targeted by Sunni extremists in the province of Balochistan.

At the blast site, members of the Hazara community helped authorities dig through rubble to find the dead or survivors. Most of their efforts were focused on a two-story building that was completely destroyed. More than 20 shops nearby were also demolished.

Hazaras, lashed out at the people who perpetrated the violence. “Who are these people who made us Hazara so grim and sad? Why are they after us?” they asked. “Not one month or week passes here without the killing of a member of the Hazara community ... Why is the government — both central and provincial — so lethargic in protecting Shiites?” Near the rubble, a group of more than 50 women were wailing and beating their heads in mourning.

On the road to the neighborhood where the attack occurred, Hazara youth burned tires and chanted for the arrests of the killers. A number of Shiite groups also staged a sit-in and were demanding the immediate removal of the chief secretary of Baluchistan and the top police official, said Rahim Jaffery, who heads a Shiite organization called the Council for the Protection of Mourning.

Jaffery said a mass funeral for the victims had been planned for Sunday afternoon but all Shiite groups were meeting to decide whether to stage a protest similar to one in January when they refused to bury their dead for four days.

That protest led the prime minister to sack the chief minister of the province and his cabinet and put Governor Zulfiqar Magsi directly in charge of the region — a move that many Shiites thought would help protect their community. But the governor’s comments revealed his frustration at a job growing ever more difficult. Magsi said the blast was the result of a failure of the security and intelligence agencies in the province.

“Officials and personnel of these institutions are scared (of the terrorists). Therefore they don’t take action against them,” he said in comments that were broadcast on local television.

A militant group called Lashkar-e-Jhangvi called one local television station to claim responsibility for the attack.—Agencies

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