Pakistani Shiites protest after attack kills 86

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 11, 2013 at 2:19 pm •  Published: January 11, 2013
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After the attack, "it was a scene like hell on Earth," said Ali. "Rescue people were carrying out dead and injured, people bleeding and crying, and rushing them toward ambulances. I have never seen such a horrifying situation in my life."

One of those killed was a young human rights activist named Irfan Ali.

"He was a very active, energetic activist," said Tahir Hussain, a lawyer and vice chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan's Baluchistan chapter. He said Ali was associated with the HRCP for the last 10 years, often writing about social issues and oppression of the Shiite Hazara community. Ethnic Hazaras migrated from Afghanistan more than a century ago and have been the targets of dozens of attacks over the past year, but Thursday's was by far the bloodiest.

Ali appeared to have been killed during the second explosion after he rushed to the scene to help, said Hussain. On his Twitter feed before the attack, Ali wrote about Hazara families who were leaving the area in fear.

Many residents railed at the government over the repeated acts of violence.

"This government has totally failed in protecting us," said Abbas Ali, who was collecting items from the rubble of his nearby shop, also destroyed in the blast. "Somehow we will get compensation for our losses but those who have gone away will not come back."

Five victims of the billiards hall attack died of their wounds overnight, said Shakeel, who put the death toll at 86.

The strike was the worst of three deadly bombings targeting Shiites and soldiers in Quetta and worshippers at a Sunni mosque in the northwest on the same day.

It appeared to be Pakistan's worst day of violence since October 2007, when 150 were killed in a bombing aimed at Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto. She survived the blast but was assassinated two months later.

Last year was the bloodiest year for Pakistan's Shiite community, with over 400 members of the sect killed in targeted attacks throughout the country, according to Human Rights Watch.

Violence has been especially intense in southwest Baluchistan province, where Quetta is the capital and the country's largest concentration of Shiites live. More than 120 Shiites were killed in targeted attacks in Baluchistan in 2012.

In Quetta on Friday, suspected militants fired rocket-propelled grenades at a terminal where trucks carrying supplies to NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan were parked, said Shakeel, the senior police officer. The attack killed two people, wounded another and set 10 trucks ablaze.

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Abbot reported from Islamabad. Associated Press writers Zarar Khan and Rebecca Santana in Islamabad contributed to this report.

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