‘Down With Terrorism’: Pakistan’s Minority Hazara Protest For Third Day After Attack

Members of Pakistan’s Shi’ite ethnic Hazara minority have held a sit-in protest in the southwestern city of Quetta for a third consecutive day, following a deadly suicide bombing that appeared to target the community.

Reports said that about 200 people on April 14 blocked traffic in a key artery leading into Quetta, the capital of Balochistan Province, chanting slogans such as “Stop killing Hazara” and “Down with terrorism and sectarianism.”

Dozens of Hazara also gathered in the southern city of Karachi, some holding signs reading, “Shi’ite lives matter.”

At least 20 people were killed and 48 others wounded on April 12, when a suicide bomb exploded in an outdoor market in Quetta in an attack claimed by both an affiliate of the Pakistani Taliban and the Islamic State group.

Eight Hazara were among those killed, according to police.

Hazara have been frequently targeted by Sunni Muslim militant groups in both Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan.

The protesters in Quetta have refused to call off their sit-in until their demands were met, including the arrests of those behind the attack and stepped-up measures to protect their community.

A team comprising senior officials of the Counterterrorism Department (CTD) has been set up to investigate the blast, the Dawn newspaper reported.

Hazara make up about 500,000 of Quetta’s 2.3 million people.

Amnesty International said the April 12 blast was a “painful reminder” of the many attacks suffered by the Hazara community in the city over the years.

The resource-rich Balochistan Province, which borders Afghanistan, has been plagued by sectarian violence, Islamist militant attacks, and a separatist insurgency that has led to thousands of casualties since 2004.