Pakistani Shi’ites Protest Lack of Security

Posted January 11th, 2013 at 12:50 pm (UTC-5)
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Officials in Pakistan's Baluchistan province Friday declared a three-day mourning period for victims of three deadly bombings in the provincial capital, while Shi'ites, the apparent target of two of the blasts, refused to bury their dead to protest the Muslim minority group's lack of security.

Police say a suicide bombing Thursday targeted a billiards hall in an area of Quetta populated mainly by ethnic Hazaras, who are Shi'ite Muslims. That blast was followed moments later by a car bombing outside the hall.

The outlawed militant Sunni group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the twin bombings, which killed at least 86 people. The attack came just hours after a deadly bomb blast in the Quetta market killed 12 people. Militant Baluch nationalists claimed responsibility for that bombing.

The Reuters news agency Friday quoted Maulana Amin Shahheedi, who heads a national council of Shi'ite organizations in Pakistan, as criticizing Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, for failing to prevent attacks targeting Shi'ites.

Shi'ites make up about 20 percent of Pakistan's mostly Sunni Muslim population of 160 million people.

Ali Dayan Hasan, the Pakistan director of Human Rights Watch, said Friday that Pakistan's Shi'ite Muslims are living in a state of siege and warned sectarian violence is likely to rise. He said “if yesterday's attack is any indication, it's just going to get worse.” Four hundred Shi'ites were killed in Pakistan last year.