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Pakistan's Shi'ite Protesters Bury their Dead

Shi'ite Muslims sit around coffins of victims killed in Saturday's bomb attack, during a funeral at a cemetery in Quetta, February 20, 2013.
Pakistani Shi'ites in the southwestern city of Quetta began burying the 89 victims of a bombing claimed by Sunni militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

Thousands joined demonstrations following the bombing, refusing to bury the victims until the government provided more protection for Shi'ites and did something more proactive about sectarian violence. After several days of demonstrations, the protesters agreed Tuesday to stop demonstrating and bury the dead.

Hours earlier Pakistani security forces said they had killed four militants suspected of involvement in the bombing.

Local media say seven other suspects were arrested in a search operation launched Tuesday in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province. The alleged mastermind of Saturday's blast was among those arrested.

Officials say some 170 other people were rounded up in Baluchistan.

Police officer Mir Zubair told reporters the burials are nearly done. "You are aware that after talks between the Parliamentary delegation and the clerics and local leadership here, the burial process had started in the morning. However, the sentiments of some angry people and some women were inflamed," he noted. "When the burials started - you people reported that - the process was stopped for a short while, but thank God the burials are almost all done by now. Some angry people threw stones which caused damage to the police and the Deputy Commissioner's car. Some people were injured also. There was some firing too. But now the situation is totally under control and we hope the burials will be over in a while."

Saturday's attack was the worst in Quetta since a series of bombings on January 10 in a Shi'ite-dominated area of the city killed 92 people. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi also claimed responsibility for those attacks.

The Shi'ite minority in Baluchistan province has been the target of sectarian attacks several times in recent months.

Islamic militants and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi fighters are active in the province, as are Baluch nationalist insurgents fighting to gain a greater share of income from the province's gas and mineral resources.

Sectarian violence claimed more than 400 lives in Pakistan last year.