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Shias refuse to bury the dead, six Levies men gunned down

23 January, 2014

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QUETTA: The families of the victims of Mastung attack staged a sit-in protest on Alamdar Road on Wednesday and refused to bury the dead bodies, while six officials of the Balochistan Levies were killed in another attack on Wednesday.

The death toll from Tuesday's attack on a bus transporting Shia pilgrims rose to 26, while some of the injured were said to be in a critical condition. The pilgrims were returning from Iran when a bomb hit their bus on Tuesday. The attack took place in Khusak area of Kanak District of Mastung, some 45 kilometres from Quetta. Local government official Shafqat Shahwani told AFP that 51 passengers had been on board at the time of the blast.

Banned organisation Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed the responsibility for the attack. According to reports, the bus was coming from Pak-Iran border town of Taftan when it was attacked on the main Quetta-Taftan Highway in Mastung District.

The families took the dead bodies and assembled on Alamdar Road, a predominately Hazara neighbourhood. The bodies were kept near the Nichari Imambargah. Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch met the protesting families and expressed solidarity with them.

"It is your right to protest. We need to wage a joint struggle against terrorism," he said, adding that the "government is making utmost efforts to ensure that such a tragic incident does not take place in the future. Days are not too far when Hazara community will live with peace and tranquillity."

Meanwhile, six Levies officers were killed Wednesday while escorting a Spanish tourist as he cycled through Balochistan, officials said. The cyclist and his escort of local tribal police were ambushed in Mastung District, about 55 kilometres west of Quetta.

"The local tribal police officials were escorting the Spanish cyclist after he entered Pakistan from Iran when gunmen attacked him," a senior local administration official, Shafqat Sehwani, told AFP. Six policemen were killed and five wounded in an exchange of fire, he said, adding that the cyclist suffered only minor injuries.

A Spanish embassy spokesman said the cyclist, whom he would not name, is safe and has been released from hospital. Provincial home secretary Asad Gilani said he had undergone a full medical checkup and was now "in the custody of the provincial administration".

End.

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