Pak launches 'targeted operation' against Quetta militants
Islamabad: Pakistan on Tuesday ordered a "targeted operation" against militants in Quetta after nearly 90 people died in a terror attack last week in a Shia area in the restive southwestern city, even as security forces killed four members of a banned outfit responsible for the bombing.
Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf "has ordered an immediate launch of targeted operation aimed at eliminating those responsible for playing with the lives of innocent civilians and restoring peace and security in Quetta," said a spokesman for the premier's office.
Ashraf "is closely monitoring the situation in Quetta and is in constant touch with concerned authorities," the spokesman said without giving details.
The GEO TV channel reported that law enforcement agencies and security forces had been given 36 hours to conduct the operation against militant groups responsible for targeting Shias in Quetta.
After the earlier attack on January 10, Prime Minister Ashraf gave in to demands from Shia groups and sacked the Balochistan government.
He imposed Governor's Rule in the province but observers say the measure has not led to an improvement in the security situation.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court today summoned the Defence and Interior Secretaries as it took up a suo motu case regarding the killing of hundreds of Shias in terror attacks in Quetta.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, which is hearing the case, directed the two secretaries to appear in court.
The bench also sought reports from several departments regarding twin suicide bombings in Quetta on January 10 and the latest attack on February 16.
Ninety-two people, most of them Shia Hazaras, were killed
in the January 10 attack while 89 people died on Saturday.
Both attacks were carried out in Shia-dominated areas of Quetta.
Hundreds of Shias have joined a sit-in protest in Quetta and refused to bury dozens of bodies till the security of the city is handed over to the army and the government takes steps to protect the minority community.
Shias and rights groups have also organised protests in cities across the country, including Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.
Last night, four members of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi were killed and seven others arrested during an operation conducted by security forces in Quetta in the wake of the recent attack.
Balochistan Home Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani today said that four armed members of the banned group were killed and seven others arrested, after an exchange of fire with Frontier Corps personnel in Killi Qambrani area of Quetta, the provincial capital, late last night.
Though Durrani did not name the group, other sources said the security forces clashed with the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which had claimed responsibility for Saturday's bomb attack.
Shias, who make up 20 per cent of Pakistan's population of 180 million, have been repeatedly targeted by the LeJ in Balochistan.
According to Human Rights Watch, over 400 Shias were killed in targeted attacks across Pakistan last year. More than 125 have been killed in Balochistan province this year, most of them Shia Hazaras.