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Iran Press TV

Protests against massacre of Hazara Muslims spread across Pakistan

Iran Press TV

Thursday, 07 January 2021 4:03 PM

The ongoing protests against the recent killing of Hazara Muslims by the Daesh terrorist group spread from southwestern city of Quetta to several other parts of Pakistan.

Police said on Thursday there were sit-ins in at least 19 locations in the sprawling southern port city of Karachi.

Flights were delayed because access to the airport had been affected in the country's largest city.

Similar demonstrations were organized in the capital Islamabad and several other major cities and towns across Pakistan.

Since Monday, up to 2,500 protesters have gathered with the bodies in coffins and blocked a highway on the outskirts of Quetta, demanding justice.

At least 11 miners were kidnapped before dawn on Sunday near a remote coal mine in the southwestern mountainous Mach area, 60 kilometers southeast of Quetta City. Several of them were beheaded by the militants.

Hours later, the Daesh terrorist group claimed responsibility for the massacre.

Their gruesome killings, near the coal fields they worked, were filmed and later posted online by Daesh.

Shia leaders said on Tuesday that they will not leave the protest site on the outskirts of Quetta, the capital of Balochistan Province, until Prime Minister Imran Khan meets them and the killers are brought to justice.

"We have become tired of picking up the bodies of our people," said Syed Agha Raza, a Hazara political leader.

Agha Daud, the chief of Balochistan Shia Conference, voiced concern, noting, "The latest wave of killings will spread to other cities, including Quetta, if decisive action is not taken at this stage."

Masooma Yaqoob Ali, a female protester in Quetta, said her elder brother, along with four other relatives, was among those killed. "Now we have no male member [in our family] to take coffins of our brother and other relatives to the graveyard for burial," she said.

Premier Khan has dispatched three cabinet ministers to persuade the protesters in Quetta to disperse, but to no avail.

The Pakistani premier said in a tweet that the government was taking steps to prevent such heinous attacks and also demanded the burial of the victims.

"I share your pain & have come to you before also to stand with you in your time of suffering," Khan tweeted on Wednesday. "I will come again very soon to offer prayers and console with all the families personally."

Leaders of Pakistan's two largest opposition parties, Maryam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, were scheduled to visit the Quetta sit-in on Thursday.

Hundreds of Hazara have been killed in Pakistan over the last decade in attacks by militants in Pakistan.

Attacks have included bombings in schools and crowded markets and brazen ambushes of buses along Pakistani roads.

This was the first major attack targeting the Hazara Muslims since April last year, when a bomb blast killed at least 20 people at a market in Quetta.

The Shia Muslims of the Hazara minority frequently come under attack by terrorists active in Balochistan.

In 2013, three separate bombings killed more than 200 people in different Hazara neighborhoods. In the 2013 bombing in Quetta, sit-ins were held across Pakistan that only ended after the then prime minister met with the mourners.

Quetta, the largest city of Balochistan, has seen several bombings and shooting attacks over the past years.

Pakistan's restive Balochistan Province was rocked by a series of terrorist attacks in late 2016, raising fears about an increasing presence of armed militants in the area, including terrorists linked to Daesh.

Separatist militants in the province have also been engaged in a decades-long campaign against the central government.

Despite frequent offensives by the Pakistani army, acts of terror by militants continue to target security forces as well as civilians.

Thousands of Pakistanis have lost their lives in bombings and other militant attacks since 2001, when Pakistan entered into an alliance with the United States in Washington's so-called war on terror.

Thousands more have been displaced by the wave of violence sweeping the country.

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