At least 65 killed in bomb­ing at Pak­istan mar­ket

Nearly 200 are wounded in blast; mi­nor­ity Shi­ite sect tar­geted, po­lice say

The Washington Post Sunday - - THE WORLD - BY AB­DUL SAT­TAR

quetta, pak­istan — A bomb hid­den in a water tank ripped through a crowded veg­etable mar­ket in a mostly Shi­ite neigh­bor­hood in this south­west­ern Pak­istani city Satur­day, killing at least 65 peo­ple and wound­ing nearly 200, of­fi­cials said.

Po­lice said many of those wounded in the ex­plo­sion re­main in crit­i­cal con­di­tion. The blast, which po­lice said tar­geted the coun­try’s mi­nor­ity Shi­ite Mus­lim sect, left many vic­tims buried un­der rub­ble, but au­thor­i­ties did not know how many.

It was the dead­li­est in­ci­dent since bomb­ings tar­get­ing Shi­ites in the same city killed 86 peo­ple last month, lead­ing to days of protests that even­tu­ally top­pled the lo­cal government.

Shi­ites have come un­der in­creas­ing at­tack by mil­i­tant groups who view them as heretics and non-Mus­lims in this Sunni Mus­lim-dom­i­nated coun­try. Many of the Shi­ites in Quetta, in­clud­ing those in the neigh­bor­hood at­tacked Satur­day, are Hazaras, an eth­nic group that mi­grated to Pak­istan from Afghanistan more than a cen­tury ago.

Quetta’s po­lice chief, Zubair Mah­mood, told re­porters that the bomb had been con­cealed in a water tank af­ter be­ing towed into the mar­ket by a trac­tor. He said the blast de­stroyed shops in the neigh­bor­hood and caused a two-story build­ing to col­lapse.

“We fear some vic­tims may be found buried there,” he said.

Mah­mood said po­lice did not yet know who was be­hind the bomb­ing, but a lo­cal tele­vi­sion sta­tion re­ported that Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni ex­trem­ist group that has tar­geted Shi­ites in the past, had called to claim re­spon­si­bil­ity.

A se­nior po­lice of­fi­cer, Wazir Khan Nasir, said the bomb, set off in a res­i­den­tial sub­urb, was det­o­nated by re­mote con­trol.

An­other of­fi­cer, Samiullah Khan, said the bomb was set off while dozens of women and chil­dren were buy­ing pro­duce for their evening meal. Res­i­dents rushed the vic­tims to three area hos­pi­tals, of­ten in pri­vate ve­hi­cles be­cause there were not enough am­bu­lances to trans­port the vic­tims.

Mem­bers of the mi­nor­ity Shi­ite sect took to the city’s streets in an­gry protest, block­ing roads with burn­ing tires and throw­ing stones at pass­ing ve­hi­cles.

Satur­day’s at­tack was the worst since mul­ti­ple bomb­ings on Jan. 10 killed 86 peo­ple in Quetta, al­most all Hazara Shi­ites. Res­i­dents were so fu­ri­ous that they re­fused to bury their dead for days, in­stead camp­ing out on the streets with the bod­ies in coffins in protest and de­mand­ing the government ad­dress the prob­lem.

Af­ter days of protests, Prime Min­is­ter Raja Pervez Ashraf flew to the city to meet with pro­test­ers and sacked the chief min­is­ter and his cab­i­net. But Satur­day’s at­tack showed the still-po­tent power of the mil­i­tant groups be­hind such in­ci­dents.

Last year was par­tic­u­larly deadly for Shi­ites in Pak­istan. Ac­cord­ing to Hu­man Rights Watch, more than 400 were killed in tar­geted at­tacks across the coun­try. The hu­man rights group said that more than 125 were killed in Baluchis­tan province, of which Quetta is the cap­i­tal, and that most of them had be­longed to the Hazara com­mu­nity.

AR­SHAD BUTT/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

At a hospi­tal in Quetta, medics and vol­un­teers cover the bod­ies of vic­tims of the bomb blast.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.