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Pakistani Shi’ites protest killings

QUETTA, Pakistan — Shi’ite Muslims hit by a twin bombing that killed 86 people refused to bury their dead Friday, demanding the Pakistani government do more to protect them from increasing violence against the minority sect.

The attack on a billiards hall Thursday night in the southwestern city of Quetta marked a bloody start to the new year after a human rights group said 2012 was the deadliest ever for Shi’ites in the majority Sunni Muslim country.

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Many of the attacks last year were carried out by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a militant group allied with Al Qaeda and the Taliban that also claimed responsibility for the bombing at the billiards hall.

The attack was one of three across Pakistan on Thursday that killed 120 people in the country’s deadliest day in five years.

The billiards hall is in a predominantly Shi’ite area, and most of the dead and wounded were from the sect. Members of the beleaguered Shi’ite community laid about 50 of their dead on the street Friday, saying they would not bury them until the government improves security in the area.

Islamic custom dictates the dead should be buried as soon possible.

Young Shi’ite men also set tires on fire and blocked a road in protest.

“We want safety for all our sects, and all security measures should be taken for our safety,” said Fida Hussain, a relative of one of the victims. “We will not bury them until the government fulfills all our demands.”

The Shi’ites finally ended their protest and agreed to bury the dead late Friday after hours of negotiation with police and government officials, who promised to provide greater protection and arrest the killers, said senior police officer Hamid Shakeel.

Rights groups have also accused the government of not doing enough to protect Shi’ites.

On Thursday, Human Rights Watch accused the Pakistani military and other security agencies of “callousness and indifference” when it came to the killing of Shi’ites.

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