People carry placards demanding justice, following the killings of coal miners from Pakistan's minority Shi'ite Hazara community in an attack in Mach area of Bolan district, during a protest in Karachi, Pakistan January 5, 2021. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro
January 5, 2021
By Gul Yousafzai
QUETTA, Pakistan (Reuters) – Members of the Shi’ite Hazara minority in Pakistan who have blockaded a highway in Quetta with the bodies of slain coal miners said on Tuesday they will not withdraw until Prime Minister Imran Khan meets them and the killers are brought to justice.
Islamic State militants slit the throats of 11 miners in a residential compound near a mine site in Pakistan’s Balochistan province on Sunday, filming the entire incident and later posting it online.
Thousands of Hazaras have since staged a protest, arranging the coffins across a highway in the provincial capital Quetta.
“We have become tired of picking up the bodies of our people,” Syed Agha Raza, a Hazara Shi’ite political leader, told Reuters.
Masooma Yaqoob Ali told Reuters her elder brother along with four other relatives were among those killed.
“Now we have no male member [of our family] to take coffins of our brother and other relatives to the graveyard for burial,” she said, shedding tears as she spoke.
The protesters are refusing to bury the victims of the attack until demands, which include the resignation of the provincial government, are met. Protests also occurred on Tuesday in Karachi, Pakistan’s large southern city.
Balochistan Home Secretary Hafiz Basid told Reuters at least nine of the victims were from neighboring Afghanistan, and two bodies had thus far been taken there for burial. Afghanistan’s Foreign Office said in a statement that seven of the dead were Afghan, and both sides were investigating the incident together.
Hazaras have faced persecution by extremists in both countries, where Sunni Islam predominates. Some Afghan Hazaras come to Pakistan for work in the winter, including at the coal mine in Balochistan.
Hundreds of Hazara have been killed over the last decade in attacks in Pakistan, including bombings in schools and crowded markets and brazen ambushes of buses along Pakistani roads.
(Additional reporting by Abdul Qadir Sediqi in Kabul; Writing by Umar Farooq; Editing by Peter Graff)