Pak PM orders 'targeted operation' against militants in Quetta

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf today directed authorities to launch a "targeted operation" against militants in Quetta following the killing of nearly 90 people in a terror attack in the Shia-dominated southwestern Pakistani city.

The Prime Minister "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.

Ashraf was quoted by Geo News channel as saying that his government would not allow any civilians to be held hostage by terrorists.

The 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.

Yesterday, Ashraf had asked intelligence agencies to explain a breach of security by an explosives-laden truck used by the terrorists during the attack in February.

Reports said that up to 800 kg of explosives hidden in a water tank were used in that attack. Analysts have questioned how the vehicle got past dozens of check posts set up across Quetta.

Shia political parties and students' groups have organised protests across the country to condemn the bomb attack at Hazara Town in Quetta that killed 89 people and injured nearly 200 on February 16.

That attack came a little over a month after twin suicide bombings in Quetta killed 92 Shias on January 10.

Life was affected by protests in several large cities, including Islamabad and Karachi. Several key roads in Karachi, Pakistan's financial capital and largest city, were blocked by protestors and traffic was thin.

Protests were also organised in cities and towns across Punjab and Sindh provinces. Hundreds of Shias joined a sit-in protest in Quetta, saying they would not bury dozens of victims of Saturday's bombing till the government hands over the security of the city to the army.

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