QUETTA, Pakistan : Pakistan’s minority Shiites continued their sit-in for a fourth straight day on the outskirts of the southwestern city of Quetta to protest the killing of 11 coal miners by the Islamic State group, insisting they will bury their dead only when Prime Minister Imran Khan personally visits them to assure protection.
Residents and relatives of the slain miners, who were members of the minority Shiite Hazara community, began the protest Sunday after IS militants abducted and killed them in southwestern Baluchistan province. The miners were shot. Six died at the scene and five, critically wounded, died on the way to hospital.
Police video of the bodies revealed the miners were blindfolded and had their hands tied behind their backs before being shot. Sunday’s attack took place near the Machh coal field, about 48 kilometers (30 miles) east of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan.
Since then, police have been raiding different places to arrest the attackers.
Under Islamic tradition, burials take place as quickly as possible after death. But Shiites were refusing to bury the dead. They also said they would not hold funerals until authorities arrest the killers.
Angered over the killing of coal miners, hundreds of members from Hazara community blocked several roads in Karachi, demanding protection from the government and urging authorities to arrest those linked to the killings. Government officials tried to convince the Shiites to end their protest peacefully, officials and police said.
Shiites on Wednesday demanded a crackdown against the assailants. They said they were peace loving but their patience could end if violence against them continued.
“We want a decisive action and arrest of all those who killed our people,“ said Daud Agha, a Shiite leader. “We are sitting with the bodies of our dear ones here and we will bury them only when Imran Khan comes“ and assures their protection.
Mourners have been sitting on a highway amid harsh cold weather after blocking it since Sunday. They included family members of the slain coal miners, who were seen wailing and crying and cursing the attackers.
“My 18-year-old innocent son Ghulam Ali was killed. They ruined my world by killing my son,“ said Bibi Hameeda, as she cried. “Oh Allah, you are watching what happened to us. What is our mistake? We want to know why our people are killed, “ she said.
She said she would have stopped her son from going out if she had known he was in grave danger.
The Sunni militant group has repeatedly targeted Pakistan’s minority Shiites in recent years. IS claimed responsibility quickly after the abduction of the miners.
Pakistan’s Hazara community has been targeted many times in recent years by Sunni militant groups, including the Islamic State group.