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Thousands of Shiites protest 89 killed in Pakistan

By The Associated Press

This article was originally published February 18, 2013 at 7:27 a.m. Updated February 18, 2013 at 8:46 a.m.

— At least 15,000 Shiite Muslims took to the streets in southwest Pakistan on Monday in a second day of protests after a bombing that killed 89 people. Relatives of the victims refused to bury their loved ones until the army takes action against the militants targeting the minority sect.

Meanwhile, militants wearing suicide vests and disguised as policemen attacked the office of a senior political official in northwest Pakistan, killing six people, police said.

Pakistan has been besieged by militant attacks in recent years, many of them carried out by the Pakistani Taliban, who have been waging a bloody insurgency against the government. Radical Sunni militant groups have also increasingly targeted the country’s Shiites because they do not view them as real Muslims.

Many of these sectarian attacks have occurred in southwest Baluchistan province, which has the largest concentration of Shiites in Pakistan. Many are Hazaras, an ethnic group that migrated from Afghanistan over a century ago.

The bomb that ripped through a produce market Saturday in Baluchistan’s provincial capital of Quetta was the second mass-casualty attack targeting Shiites in the city in a little over a month. A double bombing of a billiards hall in January killed 86 people.

The death toll from the most recent blast, which was caused by a bomb hidden in a water tank, rose to 89 on Monday after eight people died of their wounds, said Baluchistan’s home secretary, Akbar Hussain Durrani.

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