A Hazara Shia comforts another mourning for a family member who died in a bomb blast, at a local hospital in Quetta, Pakistan, on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013.
The outlawed Pakistani terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has claimed responsibility for Saturday’s massacre in Quetta.
A bomb attack targeting Shia Muslims in the main bazaar of the city in southwestern Pakistan killed at least 79 people, including women and children, and injured nearly 200 others, officials said early on Sunday morning.
According to the police, most of the victims were Hazara Shias. Burnt school bags and books of schoolchildren were scattered everywhere, witnesses said.
A spokesman for Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the bombing. The group was founded in 1996 by Riaz Basra after he broke away from Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan over differences with his superiors.
"The explosion was caused by an improvised explosive device fitted to a motorcycle," said Wazir Khan Nasir, the deputy inspector general of police in Quetta. "This is a continuation of terrorism against Shias."
"I saw many bodies of women and children," said an eyewitness at a local hospital. "At least a dozen people were burned to death by the blast."
On January 10, a twin bomb attack at a crowded billiard hall killed more than 90 people, mostly Shia Muslims, in Quetta, which is the capital of Balochistan province. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi said it carried out the bombing.
Following the incident, massive demonstrations were held across the country to denounce the violence against Shia Muslims.
The demonstrators shouted slogans against the government and criticized Pakistan’s security forces for failing to provide security to the country’s Shia Muslims.
They also denounced the Saudi Arabian policy of funding extremist groups that commit acts of violence against Muslims in Pakistan.
In addition, the protesters called on the government to take immediate action against the forces involved in the sectarian killings.
Commenting on the January 10 bombing in Quetta, the Pakistan director of Human Rights Watch said, “2012 was the bloodiest year for Pakistan’s Shia community in living memory and if this latest attack is any indication, 2013 has started on an even more dismal note.”
“As Shia community members continue to be slaughtered in cold blood, the callousness and indifference of authorities offers a damning indictment of the state, its military, and security agencies,” Ali Dayan Hasan added.
“Pakistan’s tolerance for religious extremists is not just destroying lives and alienating entire communities, it is destroying Pakistani society across the board,” he stated.