Twenty-eight victims of the deadly Mastung blast were finally laid to rest on Friday hours after the bereaved families called off their two-day protest vigil. While mass funerals were taking place on Alamdar Road and in Hazara Town of Quetta, paramilitary troops and police launched a crackdown in the district where the bombing took place.
On Tuesday, a suicide bomber drove his car rigged with explosives into a bus carrying pilgrims from Taftan, a town in Chagai district that shares a border with Iran, to Quetta on Tuesday.
The Hazara community, to which the slain pilgrims belonged, staged a sit-in on Alamdar Road and refused to bury their dead until the perpetrators of the attack were arrested. However, the protest was called off on Thursday night after Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan assured the Hazara community that a crackdown would be launched against those responsible.
Security was beefed up during the funeral on Friday, with paramilitary troops and police personnel deployed in large numbers.
The Hazara community had staged similar vigils last year after two devastating bomb attacks targeting their community, prompting the dismissal of the provincial government of chief minister Nawab Aslam Raisani.
Paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) troops and personnel of police Balochistan Levies are taking part in the operation that began in parts of Mastung on Friday morning. They sealed off Dringar, Bisham, Thakta Noza and adjoining areas in and around Mastung before the crackdown.
“Around 350 personnel of the FC, the Anti-Terrorism Force (ATF) and the police are taking part in the operation, which started at 7:30am. Two helicopters are giving air cover to the personnel,” said FC spokesperson Abdul Wasay.
Twenty-five suspects were detained during the operation. However, it wasn’t immediately known whether the suspects were directly or indirectly involved in Tuesday’s bombing. The suspects – who have not been identified – are being questioned at an undisclosed location.
According to officials, Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch is supervising the operation.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 25th, 2014.