QUETTA, Jan 26: At least 13 people were injured when violence erupted in Quetta on Monday after assassination of Hazara Democratic Party chairman Hussain Ali Yousufi.
The administration deployed paramilitary troops in the city after a mob set on fire half a dozen vehicles and motorcycles and a bank and attacked several buildings, including the offices of a TV channel.
“Two men on a motorbike opened fire on Mr Yousufi when he got out of his car outside his travel agency on Jinnah Road,” said DIG Operations Wazir Khan Nasar. Mr Yousufi died on way to hospital.
A man phoned journalists at the Quetta Press Club to claim responsibility for the attack on behalf of the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi.
Law-enforcement agencies launched a crackdown against the organisation and arrested over a dozen suspected extremists in Sariab and Shalkot areas.
“Police arrested three suspected activists of the banned group after an exchange of fire,” Home Minister Mir Zafarullah Zahri told Dawn.
Chief Minster Nawab Aslam Raisani ordered the police chief to arrest the killers within 48 hours.
Soon after the murder, hundreds of supporters of the Hazara Democratic Party gathered at the Civil Hospital, smashed the glass front of the causality department and blocked the Jinnah Road by burning tyres. They chanted slogans against the provincial government and security forces.
All markets in the city were closed. Reports of firing were received from some areas and three people in a vehicle were injured. Shots were also fired on the office of the television channel.
A mob pelted vehicles, banks and other buildings with stones and torched the main branch of a bank.
Reports that Mr Yousufi’s murder was a sectarian incident further angered the protesters who attacked and set on fire four vehicles and two motorcycles on the Jinnah Road. People trapped in some banks were rescued by law-enforcement personnel.
Several people were injured by firing near Manan Chowk and at other places.
“We have received 13 injured people, eight of them with bullet injuries,” a doctor said.
According to sources, Qaidabad police station SHO Maqsood Ahmed was injured in an attack on Alamdar Road.
The situation worsened when a group of people started throwing stones on the protesters. Leaders of the Pukhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party acted swiftly to bring the situation under control.
Law-enforcement personnel used batons and tear-gas shells to disperse mobs, but groups of charged people continued to gather at different places.
An official said that paramilitary troops had been called to help police and the local administration in bringing the situation under control.
Provincial police chief Asif Nawaz Warraich said 12 suspects had been arrested during a crackdown on banned religious groups. He said two extremists injured in an encounter had been arrested and their automatic weapons had been seized.
Amanullah Kasi adds: Meanwhile, the Hazara Democratic Party gave a call for a strike in the city on Tuesday and criticised the government’s failure to protect Hazara tribesmen who are being regularly targeted by terrorists.
Addressing a press conference at civil hospital on Monday, HDP’s Secretary General Abdul Khaliq Hazara said the assassinated leader would be laid to rest in the Hazara graveyard on Tuesday morning.
“Several Hazara tribesmen have been killed in sectarian attacks, but the government and police have failed to arrest any of the killers or to provide protection to innocent tribesmen,” Mr Abdul Khaliq said, adding that the government’s inaction had forced the Hazaras to make arrangements for self defence.
He said that Hazara tribesmen were peaceful people and did not believe in violence and wanted brotherly relations with all people living in the city, but terrorists were fanning sectarian tension to create conditions like Hangu and Swat in Quetta, adding that his party would foil such designs of criminals.