Pakistan Shi'ites to bury bomb victims after meeting PM

Sun Jan 13, 2013 6:33pm EST
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By Gul Yousufzai

QUETTA, Pakistan (Reuters) - Shi'ite Muslims agreed on Monday to begin burying nearly 100 of their people killed three days ago in one of Pakistan's deadliest sectarian attacks after the prime minister said he would comply with their demands to sack the local government.

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf met leaders of the Shi'ite Hazara community in a mosque near the site of Thursday's twin bombings in Quetta, capital of Balochistan province, and told them he would dismiss the province's chief minister and cabinet.

He voiced deep sorrow over the killings, which led members of the Hazara community to hold a sit-in next to the 96 unburied bodies of the victims and sparked protests across Pakistan.

Ashraf said he would impose "governor rule", which allows him to replace local authorities, some of whom the Hazara accuse of fomenting violence against them.

"When you will awake in the morning, Governor Rule would have been imposed in Balochistan province," he said in a statement.

In response, the Shi'ites will call off their three-day-long protest sit-in and begin burials on Monday, said Qayyum Changazi, chairman of the Yakjehti Council, a national umbrella organization of Shi'ite groups.

The protesters told Ashraf that hundreds of Shi'ites from the Hazara ethnic group had been killed in Quetta in recent years and that members of the provincial government had sponsored some of the violence.

Ashraf said he and President Asif Ali Zardari "express our deep sorrow and grief over the killing of innocent people of Hazara Shi'ite community who were killed in bomb blasts."   Continued...

Shiite Muslims gather to protest against last Thursday's twin bomb attack in Quetta, in Lahore January 13, 2013. REUTERS/Mani Rana