Members of the Shia Hazara community in Balochistan continued their protests on Thursday, braving long winter nights and freezing temperatures, while refusing to bury the 11 coal miners killed by militants over the weekend until Prime Minister Imran Khan personally visits them to assure their protection.
Protests continued for the third day at several locations in Karachi as well, with demands for the protection of the Shia Hazara community.
The 11 miners were brutally massacred on Sunday when armed assailants entered the residential compound in the Mach coalfield area of Balochistan where they were sleeping, blindfolded and trussed them up before executing them. The militant Islamic State (IS) group, also known by the Arabic acronym Daesh, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Relatives and residents started their protest on the same day, arranging the coffins on the Western Bypass on the outskirts of Quetta and refusing to bury them in a symbolic gesture until the prime minister's visit and assurance of protection.
The protests later spread to other parts of the country, including cities in Punjab and Karachi, where demonstrators blocked several important roads, disrupting traffic.
“This is systematic ethnic cleansing of Hazaras in Balochistan and our security forces are behaving like lame ducks, doing nothing,” said Zainab Ahman, an activist among the mourners.
“We want a decisive action and the arrest of all those who killed our people,” Daud Agha, a Shia leader told reporters in Quetta. “We are sitting with the bodies of our dear ones here and we will bury them only when Imran Khan comes”.
“My 18-year-old innocent son, Ghulam Ali, was killed. They ruined my world by killing my son,” said Bibi Hameeda, crying.
Hundreds of Hazara have been killed over the last decade in attacks, including bombings in schools and crowded markets and brazen ambushes of buses along roads.
Header: Demonstrators from the Shia Hazara community carry placards beside candles to pay tribute to miners who were killed in an attack by gunmen in the mountainous Machh area, during a vigil in Islamabad on Jan 6. — AFP
Additional input from AP and AFP.