Pakistan blast: Governor fury at 'intelligence failure'

Hazara women demand action against extremists in Pakistan

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The governor of Pakistan's Balochistan province has accused intelligence and law enforcement agencies of being unable to keep the peace after a bomb blast in Quetta killed at least 81.

Nawab Zulfikar Magsi, given greater powers after a similar attack in January, told Geo News that agents were either "too scared or too clueless".

Saturday's attack on Shia Muslims was carried out by a Sunni militant group.

A strike has been called in Quetta for Sunday in memory of the dead.

President Asif Ali Zardari has spoken to Mr Magsi by telephone and called for concerted efforts to protect members of the Shia group that was targeted - the Hazara.

'Chaos everywhere'

Mr Magsi was made provincial chief executive in January after another attack on the Hazaras killed 92 people and the government of Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani was sacked.


After the last bomb attack in Quetta, and the ensuing protests by the Hazara community, the Pakistan government sacked Baluchistan's chief minister, Nawab Aslam Raisani, but has yet to arrest the culprits behind the attack.

This came as no surprise to the Hazara community, who have yet to see the Pakistan government take action against the Sunni extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

Many Hazaras feel the government is not doing enough and allows groups to act freely against Shia.

With frequent targeted killings and bomb explosions in Quetta, the Hazaras are living in a state of fear.

Many are apprehensive to leave their homes and those who work in areas that are deemed dangerous are told by their employers to stay at home.

The frontier corps has been given powers to maintain law and order and Mr Magsi can call in more armed forces.

After Saturday's attack, Mr Magsi told Geo News that intelligence agents were "either too scared to go after the terror-mongers or too clueless to even know who they are dealing with".

He said he had given security forces a "free hand" to take action against extremist groups, but that this had clearly failed.

He said: "It's their job to pre-empt such attacks. That's what they are paid for."

He also told Dawn News: "There is chaos everywhere and the state does not seem to be effective."

Mr Magsi announced compensation of 100,000 rupees ($1,000) for the families of each fatal victim.

Much of Quetta was at a standstill on Sunday after the local Hazara Democratic Party called a strike in memory of the dead.

A special mourning ceremony will also be held on Sunday.

Who are the Hazaras?

Hazara girls in Bamiyan province (file photo - 2009)
  • Mostly settled in the central Afghan highlands, around Bamiyan province - area known as the Hazarajat
  • Of Mongolian and Central Asian descent
  • Legend has it they are descendants of Genghis Khan and his soldiers, who invaded Afghanistan in the 13th Century
  • Practise Shia Islam, in predominantly Sunni Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • At least 600,000 live in Quetta, mostly migrants from Afghanistan, who settled there because the city made it easy for them to visit their home communities
  • Quetta is also on a key Shia pilgrimage route to Iran
  • Sunni extremists have regularly accused the Hazaras of being proxies of Iran in Pakistan

Party chairman Azizullah Hazara gave the provincial government a 48-hour deadline to target the killers or face stronger protests.

Some members of the Hazara community took to the streets on Saturday, blocking roads with burning tyres and throwing stones.

After the January attack, the community initially refused to bury its dead in anger at the lack of protection.

Senior police official Wazir Khan Nasir said that 81 people were now confirmed dead after Saturday's attack, with 178 people wounded.

Twenty people are still critically wounded and the death toll could rise.

The blast ripped through a crowded market place in a Hazara area at around 18:00 (13:00) on Saturday.

The bomb went off in an area housing grocery stores, vegetable shops, language schools and a computer centre.

It happened as people, mainly women, were shopping for groceries and children were coming out of their classes.

The banned Sunni militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi said it carried out the attack, as well as the one in January.

Quetta is the capital of Balochistan province, which borders Iran and Afghanistan, and has been plagued by a separatist rebellion as well as sectarian violence.

Hundreds of Shia Hazaras in Quetta have been killed in attacks over the past few years.

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