On Sunday, at least 11 coal miners on the way from work were kidnapped by armed militants on the way to work and were attacked. 6 died on the spot while the remaining sustained injuries that were fatal and passed on the way to the hospital. All the victims were identified to be from the Hazara Shia community, a regional minority that is unfortunately often the target of various forms of persecution and targeted attacks. It appears that the militants specifically kidnapped the Hazara miners and let others go. A large number of police officers, district officials, and Frontier Corps arrived on the scene, but as of Monday, a proper case was yet to be filed. Some sources say that the case was not properly pursued due to some discrepancies in details.
The attack was claimed by ISIS through its Amaq news agency via its Telegram communications channel, although news outlets have been unable to verify that claim independently. This is not the first time ISIS and its affiliates have targeted Hazara Shias. Other extremist militant groups have targeted the community as well, in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. The attack has been widely condemned by Pakistani government officials and civil society, with the Prime Minister calling upon the judiciary and investigation forces to provide justice.
Thousands from the Hazara community continue to sit in the frigid cold in protest even 3 days later, blocking roads with the bodies of the victims, demanding justice. They say that the victims’ bodies will not be buried until demands are met. They believe if the assassins are not arrested, and action is not taken, the killings of Hazaras in Pakistan is likely to spread unabated to other cities. Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed met with them and carried their demands to the PM. One of their demands was to replace provincial officials. The government has refused this demand but the other demands have been declared valid. Experts and activists are urging for thorough and practically implementable policy on the protection of this ethnic and religious minority.
Image Source: AFP