Pakistani Shiites refuse to bury bombing victims

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Shiites in a southwestern Pakistani city hit by a brutal terror attack refused to bury their dead yesterday in protest, demanding that the government do something to protect them from what has become a barrage of bombings and shootings against the minority Muslim sect.

The bombings on Thursday in Quetta were the worst in a series of attacks across Pakistan that killed 120 people. It appeared to be the country's deadliest single day of violence in five years.

Most of the dead were Shiite Muslims killed in twin bombings at a billiards hall - a frightening reminder that Sunni extremists are increasingly targeting them.

Members of the beleaguered Shiite community in Quetta laid about 50 of their dead out in the street yesterday, saying they would not bury them until the government improves security in the area. Young Shiite men also set tires on fire and blocked a nearby road in protest.

"We want safety for our all sects, and all security measures should be taken for our safety," said Fida Hussain, a relative of one of the victims. "We will not bury them until the government fulfills all our demands."

The strike was the worst of three deadly bombings targeting Shiites and soldiers in Quetta, capital of Baluchistan province, and worshippers at a Sunni mosque in the northwest on the same day.

The billiards hall bombing, in a Shiite area of the city, started with a suicide attack followed by a car bomb minutes later. Militants often use such staggered bombings to maximize the body count by targeting rescuers and others who rush to the scene after the first explosion to help.

Yesterday, Shiite volunteers erected tents to keep bystanders away from the severely-damaged building, where the pool hall once occupied the basement.

Nearby resident Jan Ali described it as a neighborhood gathering spot where young and old often waited in line to play on its six tables. He rushed to the scene on Thursday night after the blast.

"It was a scene like hell on earth," Ali said. "Rescue people were carrying out dead and injured, people bleeding and crying, and rushing them toward ambulances. I have never seen such a horrifying situation in my life."

Pakistan's minority Shiite Muslims have increasingly been targeted by radical Sunnis who consider them heretics. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni militant group with strong ties to the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for Thursday's attack.

In the other incident in Quetta, a bomb hidden in a bag went off near a vehicle carrying paramilitary soldiers elsewhere in the city, killing 12 people and wounding more than 40 others.

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