QUETTA: A complete shutter-down strike is being observed in parts of Quetta to protest the killing of 26 pilgrims in Mastung on Tuesday.
The strike is being observed on the call of Ittehad-e-Tajirin Balochistan, Hazara Democratic Party and Tahafuz-e-Azadari Council.
Shops located on Alamdar Road, Hazara Town and Mariabad have been closed, while tension prevails in most areas.
A seven day mourning had also been announced by Tahafaz-e-Azadari Council, Wahdat Bainul Muslimeen and Shia Ulema Council.
Police have also arrested several suspects, many of them Afghans, in a crackdown against those involved in the attack in the Mastung area.
Nazir Ahmad Kurd, senior police officer, told AFP that 85 people had been taken into custody during a search operation to find the attackers.
“These people have been taken into custody for questioning. Those proven innocent will be released later,” Kurd told said.
22 buried in Hazara Town
Twenty-two pilgrims who were killed in the attack were buried at the Hazara Town graveyard in Quetta today.
A large number of people attended the burial, which was followed by a protest to condemn the incident and demand the immediate arrest of the culprits.
Out of the 26 killed, 22 belonged to Quetta, two were from Loralai and two from Afghanistan.
The bodies of those belonging to Loralai and Afghanistan have been sent to their respective areas.
HRCP slams government over killings
Pakistan’s independent rights watchdog said the killers had been emboldened by a persistent lack of action against sectarian militant groups, which have been implicated in thousands of deaths in past years.
Tuesday’s attack “exposes once again the diminishing writ of the state,” warned the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).
“Continued sectarian bloodshed across the country… is a direct consequence of the authorities’ perpetual failure to take note of sectarian killings in Quetta which have been going on for many years,” it added.
It was the deadliest attack on Shias in Pakistan since September 4, 2010 when a suicide bomber killed at least 57 people at a rally in Quetta.
“The government must move beyond rhetoric and its current casual and reactive approach to law and order challenges and start functioning as a responsible authority,” said the HRCP.
The Shia community in Balochistan came under attack when 29 people were killed in two separate, targeted incidents claimed by banned militant outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
At least 26 people were killed and six others injured in Ganjidori area of Mastung, about 30 kilometres southeast of Quetta, when a group of armed men attacked a passenger bus carrying Shia pilgrims from Quetta to Iran.
Hours later, three more people, hailing from the Hazara community, were gunned down near Akhtarabad area of Quetta as their rescue team made its way to the site of the bus attack. Two others were also shot.