Four terrorists were killed and 170 arrested in Balochistan on Tuesday in targeted operations against groups indulging in sectarian violence, which has killed nearly 200 Hazara Shias over the past month-and-a-half alone.
In view of the federal government’s targeted operation and meeting a parliamentary delegation, the leaders of the Hazara Shia community of Quetta initially agreed to end their three-day-old protest and bury those killed in Saturday’s blast near Hazara Town. With more people succumbing to injuries over the past couple of days, the death toll has risen to over a 100.
However, within an hour, Hazara youth refused to give up their protest and bury the dead until the Corps Commander personally assured them their demands would be met. In particular, they want decisive action against the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which has claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack.
The launch of the targeted operation was announced by the Prime Minister’s House on Tuesday. Earlier during the night, the federal government decided to send a six-member parliamentary delegation to Quetta to meet the families of those killed and also speak to the rest of the community that is being targeted with growing impunity.
In a related development, the federal Interior Ministry submitted a report on Saturday’s explosion to the Supreme Court which took suo motu notice on Monday and summoned the Attorney General and Advocate General of Balochistan.
The question that is being widely asked is how such a huge amount of explosive material could be brought into Quetta unnoticed, particularly since security is very tight in the provincial capital owing to insurgency. According to the police, about 800-1,000 kg of explosive material had been packed into a water tanker.
Officials of the Balochistan government claimed that those killed in the first day of the targeted operation included a high-profile terrorist who is not only believed to be involved in Saturday’s explosion but was also responsible for the killing of a Shia judge earlier. However, the police did not put out his name or the terrorist organisation with which he was associated.