– QUETTA SECTERIAN BOMBINGS
Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan, is located in South West Pakistan, not far from the Afghan border. The population of Quetta was estimated in 2008 at about 800,000 inhabitants. Pashtu Sunni tribes, affiliated to Pashtu tribes in Kandahar, South East Afghanistan, are about 90% of the population while Hazara Shiites are about 10%. The town was and is a rear base for Taliban like Mujahideen who fought the Russians in the 80s’ in Afghanistan and are fighting, nowadays, the NATO-ISAF forces there.
With the radicalization of the Pashtu tribes, the Shiite minority in Quetta became a target for persecutions, terror attacks and sectarian killings. They were blamed by the Pashtu tribes and the Taliban of providing information to the USA and to the Pakistani Intelligence – ISI. Hundreds of Shiites were killed each year, in dozens of terror attacks, in sectarian violence in the last decades, many of them attributed to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. The Shiaa community in Quetta fought back and committed retaliation attacks on Sunni targets as well.
On 06/08/2003, 13 trainee police personnel belonging to the local Hazara community of the Shiaa sect were killed and eight others injured at Sariab Road in Quetta.
Four weeks later, at least 44 persons were killed and 65 others injured, on 07/04/2003, when 3 armed terrorists, including a suspected suicide bomber, attacked a Shiite Muslim mosque in Quetta, during the Friday prayers. The attack occurred when Pakistan’s ruler, Gen. Pervez Musharraf was abroad, on a tour in Europe.
Curfew was imposed in the city and troops were deployed to maintain law and order as angry mob set ablaze several vehicles following the massacre. According to media reports, over 450 worshippers were offering Friday prayers at the Hazara Shiite Mosque, Jama Masjid-o-Imambargah Kalaan Isna Ashri, when 3 terrorists opened indiscriminate fire with automatic weapons and explosive devices.
In retaliation, some of the worshippers attacked the killers and one of them, who had tied an explosive devise to his chest, pulled out its pin. The device reportedly exploded killing the terrorist. However, a conflicting report said that two police officials rushed towards the Mosque and opened fire on the terrorists, injuring them.
Two of the terrorists later blew themselves up. The police defused the explosive device that was tied to the third attacker. He reportedly succumbed to his injuries later. Separately, head of the Federal Interior Ministry’s National Crises Management Cell, Brigadier Javed Cheema, said that at least one of the assailants appeared to be a suicide bomber as he had grenades tied to his body and was blown up.
The attack was attributed to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the next day, on 07/05/2003, the Pakistani police arrested a Lashkar-e-Jhangvi member, Allah Wasiya, in connection with the attack.
Eventually, the attack was committed not by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi but by an ephemeral group “Jundallah” (Soldiers of God) – a Sunni terror group operating in Baluchistan, led in 2003 by Abdolmalek Rigi (see – Baluchistan-Rigi) and with Musaad Aruchi as its liaison officer to Al Qaeda.
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