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Thursday, June 28, 2012

ETHNIC CLEANSING OF SHIAS CONTINUES


Shahzada Zulfiqar




QUETTA/PESHAWAR - At least 22 people, including 13 Shias, were killed in Quetta and Khyber Agency’s Bara tehsil on Thursday when a car bomb tore through a bus carrying pilgrims in the troubled Balochistan province and militants staged several attacks in the tribal agency in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the attack in Quetta and said it was a suicide attack targeting Shias.

Reports said the bus attacked in Quetta was carrying Shia pilgrims from Taftan, Iran and was targeted near a fruit market in the provincial capital’s Hazarganji area.

The dead included two women and two policemen escorting the bus, while over two dozen people were injured in the blast.

Some claimed that the blast was a suicide attack, but officials denied, with Quetta Capital City Police Officer Mir Zubair Mahmood saying the bus had been targeted with an explosives-laden car parked along the road in Hazarganji. He said the bus was carrying around 50 Shia pilgrims of the Hazara community from Taftan to Quetta.

The Bomb Disposal Squad said a remote-controlled bomb of around 50 kg had been used in the attack.
DIG Investigation Hamid Shakeel confirmed that passengers were pilgrims and were returning to Quetta after performing pilgrimage in Iran. 

Locals said the bomb blast was so intense that it engulfed the bus in flames, forcing it into a ravine 50 feet below the road.

People from the surroundings rushed to help the injured, while rescue officials also arrived at the scene some time later. An emergency was declared in all hospitals of Quetta. Quetta has been rife with sectarian violence in recent months and Shias of the Hazara tribe have specifically been the target of hardliner Sunnis. 

Several dozens have been killed over the past few months, but officials have only been paying a lip service and no assassin has been brought to the book so far. 

In several chilling incidents, Shias have been hauled off buses, identified and shot dead in cold blood. Two such incidents occurred in September 2011 and in February 2012.

On April 14 this year gunmen riding a motorcycle in Quetta killed eight Shia Muslims in two attacks just minutes apart. Such “sport” killing of Shias has blemished the government’s already tattered image and brought condemnations from around the globe.

Meanwhile, at least nine people, including seven personnel of security forces, were killed and several others injured in three terrorist acts in Bara tehsil in Khyber Agency. Those killed included a captain of Frontier Corps and two volunteers of peace lashkar. 

The most tragic terrorist act of the day occurred at Al Haaj Market in Bara where a vehicle of security forces was targeted by militants with an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). The official said seven personnel, including a captain were killed and four others injured. Two hours before of the attack, a patrolling party of security forces was targeted by militants with an IED at Qambarabad. Three personnel of security forces were injured in the attack. Early on Thursday, volunteers of a peace lashkar were targeted with a similar IED at Sheen Qamar area. The volunteers, Abdullah and Taj, were killed on the spot.


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