Hundreds of mourners from Pakistan’s Shia Hazara Muslim community have defied official calls for a fourth day to end their sit-in protest and bury the bodies of miners recently killed in a brutal attack by the Takfiri Daesh terrorists in the country’s restive southwest.
The protesters, estimated to be 2,500 in number, continued to block the roads on the outskirts of Quetta, the capital of Balochistan Province, on Wednesday and demanded better protection from the Pakistani government and police.
Two ministers, representing Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, flew to Quetta earlier in the day to try to convince the mourners to end the protest.
The protest came after at least 10 miners were kidnapped before dawn on Sunday near the remote coal mine in the southwestern mountainous Machh area, 60 kilometers southeast of Quetta City. Several of them were beheaded by the militants.
Hours later, the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group claimed responsibility for the massacre.
“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.
In a symbolic move to condemn the brutal attack, the Shia Hazara Muslim community has so far refused to bury the dead bodies, which according to Islamic culture and law, should be buried within 24 hours before the next sunset.
The Pakistani premier said in a tweet that the government was taking steps to prevent such heinous attacks, without providing further details, and also demanded the burial of the victims.
“Please bury your loved ones so their souls find peace,” Khan noted.
The Shia Muslims of the Hazara minority frequently come under attack by the terrorists active in Balochistan.
In 2013, three separate bombings killed more than 200 people in different Hazara neighborhoods.
Quetta, the largest city of Balochistan, has seen several bombings and shooting attacks over the past years.
Pakistan’s restive and mineral-rich Balochistan Province was rocked by a series of terrorist attacks in late 2016, raising fears about an increasing presence of armed militants in the area, including terrorists linked to Daesh.
Thousands of Pakistanis have lost their lives in bombings and other militant attacks since 2001, when Pakistan entered into an alliance with the United States in Washington’s so-called war on terror.
Thousands more have been displaced by the wave of violence sweeping the country.