ISLAMABAD A team comprising senior counter-terror officials have been formed to investigate an ISIS suicide attack targeting Hazara Shias in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province, even as the community continued their sit-in for a third day on Sunday demanding better security measures.
An ISIS bomber blew himself in Hazarganj fruits and vegetable market in provincial capital Quetta Friday morning, killing 21 people and injuring 60 others, mostly Hazaras. The ISIS Saturday released a photograph of the attacker along with his name and said the attack targeted Shia Muslims.
Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Abdul Razzaq Cheema said that a team of Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) officials had visited the site of the attack to collect evidence, local media reported.
The body parts of the suspected attacker have been sent to the Punjab Forensic Science Agency for DNA testing, he said, adding that the test reports would be handed over to Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal.
The official did not specify when the test reports would be issued.
Meanwhile, the Hazara community members are continuing a sit-in on the main Western Bypass road in Quetta to protest against what they term as the persistent failure of law enforcement agencies to provide them security.
The sit-in started soon after the suicide blast ripped through the market on Friday. Women and children are among those who have been staging the sit-in.
The protesters demand an effective security plan to ensure the protection of the Hazara Shia community.
Chief Minister Khan visited the families of the victims Saturday and said that his government is taking responsible steps to root out terrorist activities from the province. He also requested the protesters to end their sit-in.
Despite reassurances, the protesters refused to call off their sit-in until all their demands were met, including the arrests of those involved in the attack, steps for protection of the community, and implementation of NAP without discrimination.
Hazaras make up a significant minority group in Pakistan and most of them live in Quetta.
There have been similar terror attacks in Hazarganj area of Quetta in the past. The market serves as a wholesale market for fruits and vegetables.
The National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) last year stated that 509 members of the Hazara community were killed and 627 injured in various incidents of terrorism in Quetta from January 2012 to December 2017.
According to the NCHR, targeted killings, suicide attacks and bomb blasts have inflicted harm to daily life, education, and business activities of ethnic Hazara community members in Balochistan’s largest city Quetta.
Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran, is Pakistan’s largest and poorest province, rife with ethnic, sectarian and separatist insurgencies.
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