Pakistan Shiites bury dead as govt vow to get culprits

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Updated 26 February 2013
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Pakistan Shiites bury dead as govt vow to get culprits

QUETTA, Pakistan: Mass burials for 89 victims of a bomb attack targeting Shiite Muslims in Pakistan began Wednesday after three days of nationwide protests at the government’s failure to tackle sectarian violence.
Tensions were running high as up to 4,000 mourners gathered to bury the dead in the southwestern city of Quetta, and some pelted a government official’s car with stones, prompting security forces and then protesters to fire into the air.
No-one was hurt in the incident.
The bomb on Saturday in an area of Quetta dominated by ethnic Hazara Shiites was the second major attack on the minority community in five weeks and prompted protesters to pour onto the streets across the country, shutting down parts of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.
Around 1,000 of the mourners, shouting anti-government slogans and beating their chests, quarrelled with their leaders for agreeing to end their sit-in protest, which began on Sunday, and demanded Quetta be handed over to the army.
An angry mob of young people and women, crying and screaming, initially refused to bury the dead but agreed after assurances from their community heads, an AFP reporter said.
“You can see that the burial has been started and the protest sit-in is over,” Sardar Saadat Ali, one of the community leader told AFP in the Hazara community graveyard.
Shiite leaders agreed to end the protest after meeting government ministers, who promised a “targeted operation” to catch those responsible for Saturday’s atrocity.
Soldiers from the paramilitary Frontier Corps and police were deployed in all markets and on roads in Quetta city as the burials took place, while troops searched every vehicle heading toward the Hazara town area.
Shiites, who make up around 20 percent of the mostly Sunni Muslim population of 180 million, are facing record numbers of attacks, raising serious questions about security as nuclear-armed Pakistan prepares to hold elections by mid-May.
Outlawed militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) has claimed responsibility for the Quetta attacks and Shiites are furious that authorities have done nothing to prosecute those responsible.


Russia accuses US of planning to arm the opposition in Venezuela

Maria Zakharova. (Supplied)
Updated 20 min 58 sec ago
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Russia accuses US of planning to arm the opposition in Venezuela

  • A senior US administration official called the assertion a “senseless accusation” distributed by Russia as “propaganda”

MOSCOW: Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday accused the United States and its NATO allies of discussing how to arm the opposition in Venezuela and alleged Washington was deploying special forces and equipment near the South American nation.
Moscow said it had information to back its assertion but did not reveal it or say what it was.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said a US humanitarian aid convoy for Venezuela could provoke clashes and create a pretext for removing President Nicolas Maduro, a staunch Russian ally, by force.
A senior US administration official called the assertion a “senseless accusation” distributed by Russia as “propaganda.”
“There’s no truth to that,” the official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.