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Pakistan’s Shia seek protection after deadly attacks
February 19, 2013, 3:25 am

Thousands of Shia across Pakistan are demanding government protection [Xinhua]

Thousands of Shia across Pakistan are demanding government protection. [Xinhua]

Tens of thousands of Shia Muslims are continuing to stage demonstrations across Pakistan, calling on the government to protect them following a market bombing in Baluchistan which killed dozens.

At least 89 people were killed in a produce market in Quetta, Baluchistan’s provincial capital in southwestern Pakistan, on Saturday.

The bombing is the second such attack on the Shia minority since the beginning of the year.

On January 11, a bomb in a market in Quetta killed 11 people and wounded dozens.

Later on the same day, dual blasts – set off by a suicide bomber, followed by a car bomb 10 minutes later – killed at least 81 people and injured more than 120 at a snooker hall in the city.

Both attacks targeted areas where the Shia community is the majority.

The Associated Press reported at the time that Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni militant group with ties to the Pakistani Taliban and which has previously attacked Shia targets, claimed responsibility for the snooker hall attack.

Saturday’s attack comes as Pakistan experiences increased attacks by Sunni extremist groups targeting the minority Shia community, who make up 15 per cent of the population of 190 million.

Shia leaders say the government in Islamabad and the military which has been deployed to hunt for the Pakistani Taliban has been complacent and slow to react to the attacks targeting their minority.

Some of the Shia protesters say they will not bury their dead until the government takes action against Sunni militant groups.

“We stand firm for our demands of handing over the city to the army and carrying out a targeted operation against terrorists and their supporters,” Syed Muhammad Hadi, a spokesman for an alliance of Shia groups, told the media.

“We will not bury the bodies unless our demands are met.”

Source: Agencies

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