SHAFAQNA – Members of the Shia community in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Parachinar have continued their sit-in protest for the sixth consecutive day after twin terror attacks killed at least 75 people and injured over 300 there on Friday.
Business centers across the violence-hit city have been closed down since the attacks.
Local administration official Basir Khan Wazir said officials were trying to negotiate with the protesters.
Dozens of protesters on Monday offered their Eid prayers wearing black armbands in Parachinar, the capital of Kurram Agency, a mainly Shia area in the tribal belt. The protesters say the government has failed to provide security in the country.
Muzamil Hussain, an activist from Parachinar, earlier accused the government of failing to protect Muslims across the region.
“We have been a constant target of the Taliban but the government has always failed us,” media outlets quoted the activist as saying, adding, “I don’t understand how can someone drive a bomb-laden vehicle through all the check posts of the military and other paramilitary troops and reach here, it simply isn’t logical, and this is what we are protesting against.”
At least 75 people were killed and more than 300 injured in two subsequent blasts that rocked a densely populated area of Parachinar. The blasts took place three minutes from each other.
The Parachinar blasts were the deadliest in a series of militant attacks across Pakistan on Friday that unnerved citizens ahead of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
Friday’s assaults brought the town’s loss of life due to terror attacks up to 115, more than any city in Pakistan has suffered so far this year.
The area was the site of the first major attack in Pakistan in 2017, when a bomb killed 24 people in January.
Taliban militants and its affiliated groups have been active around Parachinar in the past and targeted Shia Muslims.
A notorious terrorist group known as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) then claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi terrorist group, which has been involved in several attacks on Shia Muslims in recent years, is largely funded by Saudi Arabia. It has claimed responsibility for some of the most brazen attacks on the Shia community in Pakistan’s recent history, including a January 2013 bombing in Quetta, where over 100 members of the Hazara community were killed.
Data from the South Asia Terrorism Portal shows more than 2,600 Shia Muslims have been killed in militant attacks since 2002 across Pakistan. Shia advocacy groups, however, say the figures could be much higher.
Shias make up about one third of Pakistan’s population of nearly 200 million.
Critics blame the Pakistani government and some elements within intelligence services for unwillingness to protect Shia Muslims and moderate Sunnis across the violence-wracked country.
International organizations and rights groups have urged the Pakistani government to take decisive action against the forces involved in the targeted killings.
Security has been a main issue for the Shias as thousands of them have been killed as a result of militancy and hate attacks over the past decade.
Opposition leader Imran Khan recently criticized Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for not meeting mourners of terrorist attacks in Parachinar.
Several politicians and activists have urged Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to visit Parachinar in order to meet the bereaved.