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Shia leader hurls bomb question at Kayani

Quetta, Jan. 11 (Reuters): A Shia leader today threw a rare challenge at Pakistan’s army chief Ashfaq Kayani, publicly criticising the country’s most powerful person after bombings aimed at the minority sect killed 114 people.

“I ask the army chief: what have you done with these extra three years you got (in office)? What did you give us except more death?” Maulana Amin Shaheedi, who heads a national council of Shia organisations, told a news conference.

The criticism of Kayani highlighted Shia frustrations with the state’s failure to contain hardline Sunni militant groups who have vowed to wipe out the sect.

Most of Thursday’s deaths were caused by twin attacks aimed at Shias in the southwestern city of Quetta, near the Afghan border, where members of the minority have long accused the state of turning a blind eye to Sunni militant death squads.

Shia leaders were so outraged at the latest bloodshed that they called for the military to take control of Quetta to shield them and said they would not allow the 82 victims of twin bomb attacks to be buried until their demands were met.

The burials had been scheduled to take place after Friday prayers but the bodies would remain in place until Shias had received promises of protection. Shaheedi said scores of bodies were still lying on a road. “They will not be buried until the army comes into Quetta,” he said.

Violence against Pakistani Shias is rising and some communities are living in a state of siege, a human rights group said on Friday.

 
 
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