Thousands engage in protest, demand security after deadly bombs

A faction of the Pakistan-based Sunni Muslim militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the attack in a town.

The explosion occurred in front of the office of the police chief in Quetta, which is capital of mineral-rich southern Balochistan, a province that is rife with separatist and Islamist insurgency

Citizens of Parachinar began a sit-in protest soon after the two bombs went off last week on Friday evening, as shoppers were out buying supplies in preparation for the breaking of the fast on one of the last days of the holy month of Ramadan.

A faction of the Pakistan-based Sunni Muslim militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the attack in a town where a large number of members of the Shi’ite Muslim minority live.

The crowd, already angry over what they see as the failure of authorities to ensure security, has become more enraged by the shooting dead of three protesters by police trying to keep order.

Authorities have not confirmed that three protesters were killed, saying only they were investigating.

“We are tired of picking up the dead bodies of our people,’’ said Arshad Umerzai, a former provincial government minister.

Umerzai said the prime minister and army chief should visit Parachinar, which is close to the border with Afghanistan, in response to the violence the town has suffered.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced10,000 dollars compensation for the families of every victim of the blasts, and 500,000 rupees for the wounded, but the protesters dismissed that, saying victims of attacks in other places got more, a witness said.

Security forces stopped media crew from traveling into the town to cover the protest  saying they needed special permission.

Parachinar is part of the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas, ethnic Pashtun-majority areas along the Afghan border covered by special laws and regulations.

A former senator, Allama Abid al-Hussaini, said the sit-in, centered in a town park, was estimated to have attracted 70,000 participants.

A senior government official in the town said tens of thousands joined the protest.

Parachinar had already suffered two bomb attacks this year, before last Friday’s blasts, that killed about 50 people.

Religious leader Allama Fida Mazahiri said the killing of the protesters in police firing was particularly infuriating.

“We have sided with the security forces at every turn in fighting terrorism … but the firing on protesters is uncalled for and action needs to be taken,’’ Mazahiri said.

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