February 2013 Quetta bombing

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February 2013 Quetta bombing
Location Hazara Town
Quetta, Balochistan, Pakistan
Date 16 February 2013 (2013-02-16)
Attack type
Bombing
Deaths 110[1]
Non-fatal injuries
200[2]
Perpetrator Lashkar-e-Jhangvi

On 16 February 2013, at least 110 people were killed and 200 injured after a bomb hidden in a water tank exploded at a market in Hazara Town on the outskirts of Quetta, the capital city of Balochistan, Pakistan.[1][2] Most of the victims were members of the predominantly Shia Twelver ethnic Hazara community, and authorities expected the death toll to rise due to the large number of serious injuries. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group claimed responsibility for the blast, the second major attack against the Shia Hazaras in a month.[3][4][5][6][7]

As of 19 February, one of the masterminds of the attack has been arrested and taken into custody along with 170 suspects, and four high-profile militants accused of killing Shia civilians were killed during an operation by security forces. Weapons, ammunition and bomb-making material were seized by security officials during the operation. As the Hazara people's Genocide is going on since more than One decade none of the sunni extremists has been brought to Justice.[8]

Background[edit]

Acts of violence involving Sunni Muslims and their Shia counterparts in Pakistan have been evident since the 1980s. They are generally considered to have arisen from attempts by the then national leader, Zia ul-Haq, to legitimise his military dictatorship and from the influx of weapons into the country following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Although the perpetrators often do not claim responsibility for the attacks, expert analysis suggests that in recent times it is the Sunnis who are dominating the aggression and that they are motivated by the ideology of Al Qaeda.[9] The number of violent incidents has been increasing in recent years, although not all of them are classified by the police as being sectarian attacks.[10]

Quetta, which is the capital of the Pakistani province of Balochistan, has seen numerous of these violent incidents. This is in part because of a separatist movement involving militants from the Balochistan Liberation Army who desire greater autonomy and also because the Pakistani military is engaged in counter-insurgency operations near to the province's border with Afghanistan, where there is tribal strife that involves the Taliban and allied groups.[10]

Similarly, the January 2013 Pakistan bombings in Quetta led to nearly 120 deaths and caused widespread anger leading to the dismissal of the provincial government.

Bombing[edit]

The bomb went off in a market area with many grocery stores, several language schools and a large computer centre. It took place towards the end of the market day, as lots of people were shopping for food and children were coming out of school classes. According to Quetta's police chief Mir Zubai Mehmood, around 70–80 kg of explosives had been planted inside a water tank that had been installed on a tractor trailer.[11]

Initial reports suggested the bomb had been attached to a parked motorbike. The blast dealt severe damage to buildings in the area, destroying at least one two-story house and trapping many under rubble. Sporadic gunfire was reported after the attack, and locals were reportedly hesitant to approach the site in the immediate aftermath for fear of more bombs. Angry members of the Hazara minority set up roadblocks with burning tires and fired into the air in order to keep people away from the blast site in case of a second attack. Photos from the scene showed groups of desperate people rushing the injured into ambulances and private vehicles, as emergency services quickly became overloaded.[12][13] Nevertheless, police forces worked throughout the evening and into the night, with the death toll being updated several times due to more bodies being pulled out from beneath rubble.[14]

Perpetrator[edit]

It is expected that the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Sunni Muslim extremist militant group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), is behind the attacks on the Hazara minority in the region.[15][16] There are differences of opinion regarding whether LeJ is a breakaway group of a banned former political party, Sipah-e-Sahaba, or is its armed wing.[9] The LeJ openly issues death threats to Hazaras through newspaper ads and describes them as wajib-ul-qatl (deserving of death).[17]

Reactions[edit]

Domestic reactions[edit]

Immediately after the attack, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf both released statements strongly condemning the bombing, while vowing to go after the perpetrators.[18]

Hazara leaders refused to bury their dead, giving a 48-hour ultimatum to the government to launch an operation and also demanded handing over the city to the Army.[19] Protests were held countrywide in the aftermath of the blast, with about 1500 marchers reported on the streets of Lahore and protests in Muzaffarabad and Multan. Zulfikar Ali Magsi, the Governor of Balochistan Province, criticized Pakistan's security forces regarding the violence, stating. "Our security institutions, police, FC and others are either scared or cannot take action against them".[11]

During a Senate session in Islamabad, numerous lawmakers staged a walkout to protest the government's failure in addressing the "root causes" of terror.[21] The Shia Ulema Council of Pakistan observed a strike in Karachi through a peaceful sit-in.[22] Political parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League (N), Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen among others raised the incompetency of the government and called for swift action to be taken.[23] On his official Twitter account, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan expressed being "disturbed and saddened" by the killings[24] and strongly condemned the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, demanding the LeJ culprits who were behind the attack be punished, while adding that members of his party would hold protests to express solidarity with the Hazara people.[20]

The Supreme Court of Pakistan took suo moto notice of the incident on 18 February and scheduled an open hearing the following day, in which the Balochistan Advocate General and Attorney General of Pakistan would be summoned.[25] At the hearing, Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry remarked that an operation should have been conducted against the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi a long time ago. While pointing to the failure of intelligence agencies, Chaudhry also questioned how the attacks had taken place despite the heavy presence of Frontier Corps in Quetta.[26]

International reactions[edit]

The Foreign Minister of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, also denounced the attack, and called it a "criminal act which only serves the interest of the enemies of the Pakistani nation."[27]

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon strongly condemned the blast and called for "swift and determined action against those claiming responsibility and perpetrating such actions" while reiterating "strong support" from the United Nations for "efforts by the Government and people of Pakistan to protect religious and ethnic minorities and to combat the scourge of terrorism."[28]

Crackdown against Lashkar-e-Jhangvi[edit]

Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf announced a "targeted operation" in Quetta aimed against the culprits. Ashraf also removed the Inspector general of Balochistan Umer Khitab from his post. A six-man parliamentary group arrived in Quetta to inspect the post-attack situation and hold talks with the affected Hazara community.[23]

On 19 February, security forces killed four high-profile targets accused of killing Shia civilians and arrested 170 suspects during an operation. Among the arrested men was one of the masterminds of the Hazara Town attack. The operation was conducted on the outskirts of Quetta and "bomb-making material, weapons, suicide vests and ammunition" were retrieved by intelligence and paramilitary officials during the exercise. But these reports has not been confirmed by any Independent or Hazara sources.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Quetta blasts: Death toll reaches 84". Ary News. 17 February 2013. Archived from the original on 18 April 2013. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Bomb blast kills 83, injures nearly 200 at market in southwest Pakistan". BNO News. 17 February 2013. Archived from the original on 18 February 2014. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  3. ^ Yousufzai, Gul (16 February 2013). "Bomb kills 64 in Pakistan's Quetta". Reuters. Retrieved 16 February 2013. 
  4. ^ "Large blast rips through Quetta; 63 killed". DAWN. 16 February 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2013. 
  5. ^ "Blast leaves 79 dead, 170 injured in Quetta". GEO TV. 16 February 2013. Archived from the original on 18 February 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2013. 
  6. ^ "Quetta: 69 killed 150 injured in blast at Kirani R". Dunya News. Retrieved 16 February 2013. 
  7. ^ "Quetta: Kerani Road blast toll rises to 79". The News. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "Security forces arrest suspects over Shia killings: Officials". 
  9. ^ a b Lawson, Alastair (4 October 2011). "Pakistan's evolving sectarian schism". BBC. Retrieved 22 November 2012. 
  10. ^ a b "Taliban bomber kills Pakistan Shia marchers". BBC. 22 November 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2012. 
  11. ^ a b "Bomb blast kills 65 in Pakistan market". Telegram. 17 February 2013. Retrieved 17 February 2013. 
  12. ^ "Pakistan blast targets Quetta's Hazara minority". Al Jazeera. 16 February 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2013. 
  13. ^ "Pakistan bomb blast kills at least 79 people, injures 200". RT. 16 February 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2013. 
  14. ^ Imran Ali (16 February 2013). "Dozens dead in bomb attack on Quetta market". BBC. Retrieved 16 February 2013. 
  15. ^ B. Raman (26 September 2011). "Pakistan: Another Massacre of Hazaras in Balochistan By Pro Al Qaeda Elements". Eurasia Review. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 
  16. ^ "LeJ blamed for killing Hazaras in Quetta". Central Asia Online. 19 July 2011. Retrieved 3 May 2012. 
  17. ^ Zakaria, Rafia (11 Apr 2012). "Saving the Hazara". Dawn. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  18. ^ "Bomb rips through Shiite enclave in Pakistan, kills dozens". CNN. 16 February 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2013. 
  19. ^ "No burial: Quetta protesters give 48-hour ultimatum to arrest killers". 
  20. ^ a b "Imran Khan condemns Lashkar-e-Jhangvi for attack on Hazaras". The Express Tribune. 18 February 2013. Retrieved 19 February 2013. 
  21. ^ "For the Hazaras: Senate walkouts protest Quetta tragedy". 
  22. ^ "Strike called on Monday over Quetta killings". 
  23. ^ a b c "PM orders targeted operation in Quetta". Retrieved 19 February 2013. 
  24. ^ "Imran Khan's tweet". Twitter. 17 February 2012. Retrieved 18 February 2013. 
  25. ^ "SC takes suo motu notice of Quetta carnage". 
  26. ^ "Quetta bombing: Operation should have been conducted against LeJ, says CJ". 
  27. ^ "Iran condemns terrorist attacks in Pakistan". Tehran Times. 17 February 2013. Archived from the original on 4 September 2014. Retrieved 18 February 2013. 
  28. ^ "UN chief condemns anti-Shia bombing in Quetta". Dawn. 18 February 2013. Retrieved 13 February 2013.