Published: Sun, April 14, 2019

IS claims attack in Pakistan's Quetta market

IS claims attack in Pakistan's Quetta market

At least 20 people were killed and 48 wounded Friday by a powerful suicide blast apparently targeting the Shia Hazara ethnic minority at a crowded fruit market in Pakistan's Quetta city, officials said.

Security officials confirmed that the incident took place earlier today in a market in the city.

Ethnic Hazara make up most of the Shia population in Quetta, the capital of southwestern Balochistan province - the country's largest and poorest region, rife with ethnic, sectarian and separatist insurgencies.

Baluchistan is the focus of the $57 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor, a transport and energy link planned to run from western China to Pakistan's southern deepwater port of Gwadar. One paramilitary soldier and seven other people were also killed in the bombing, he said.

The Islamic State group released a photograph of the attacker and claimed that the blast had targeted the Shia community.

Shortly after the attack, the Hazara community members including women and children staged a sit-in which continued on Saturday, demanding better security measures from the government.

Family members of the blast victims comfort each other outside a mortuary in Quetta Pakistan after bomb went off at an open-air market in the southwestern city

Hazaras have been frequently targeted by Taliban and Islamic State militants and other Sunni Muslim militant groups in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Hazarganji area has been targeted by such attacks in the past. Balochistan home minister Zia Ullah Langove, cabinet's ministers, additional inspector generals (IG) and other senior officials attended the meeting. "It is aimed to disturb peace, which to a great extent, has been achieved in Baluchistan". Four paramilitary troops, who were guarding the open-air fruit and vegetable market, were among the wounded.

Hazaras make up a significant minority group in Pakistan and majority live in Quetta. "Each time, there are promises that more will be done to protect them, and each time those promises have failed to materialise".

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi issued statements condemning the attack and adding that it would not weaken "the resolve of the nation in the fight against terrorism".

The protesters demand that the government implement an effective security plan and ensure protection of the community.

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