Pakistan provincial minister sacked over Quetta attacks

Shia Muslims have been mounting a three-day protest vigil with the shrouded bodies of the victims of the attacks

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The chief minister of the Pakistani province of Balochistan has been sacked over deadly bomb attacks in the provincial capital Quetta on Thursday.

The sacking, announced by Pakistan's prime minister, had been demanded by Shia protesters in the city.

They have been mounting a three-day protest vigil with the shrouded bodies of the victims of Thursday's attacks.

The banned Sunni militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi said it carried out the bombings, which killed at least 92.

Security concerns have grown among Pakistan's Shia minority, which makes up about 20% of the country's predominantly Sunni population.

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf announced that the governor of Balochistan had been put in charge of running the province after talks in Quetta, with representatives of the Shia community.

Sunni and Shia Muslims

  • Muslims are split into two main branches, the Sunnis and Shia
  • The split originates in a dispute soon after the death of the Prophet Muhammad over who should lead the Muslim community
  • There are also differences in doctrine, ritual, law, theology and religious organisation
  • The great majority of Muslims are Sunnis
  • Pakistan - where Shia are a minority - has a history of sectarian bloodshed dating back to the 1980s

Protesters had previously rejected a delegation led by the Minister for Religious Affairs, Syed Khurshid Shah, which came to the city on Saturday.

The worst of Thursday's attacks targeted a snooker hall. A suicide bomber detonated his device and a car bomb was detonated minutes later as police, rescuers and media arrived.

The president of the Shia Conference, Syed Dawood Agha, had told the BBC his community would not bury its dead until the army had given an assurance it would take administrative control of the city.

Among the dead was Quetta-based rights activist Irfan Ali, who was reportedly helping those wounded in the first blast.

Balochistan is plagued by a separatist rebellion as well as the sectarian infighting.

The Taliban and armed groups that support them also carry out attacks in the province, particularly in areas near the Afghan border.

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