Shiites bury their dead in troubled Pakistani city

Pakistani Shiites buried their kin killed in a massive bombing last weekend in the southwestern city of Quetta but the funeral on Wednesday was marred by gunfire as both protesters and police fired into the air.

Shiite Muslims have increasingly come under attack in this Sunni Muslim-dominated country where many extremists do not consider them to be true Muslims.

After Saturday's bombing killed 89 people _ the second mass-casualty assault on Shiites in Quetta in as many months _ Pakistani Shiites refused to bury their dead for three days and demanded government action. The tension evident at the funeral suggested that recent government attempts to address the problem may not be enough to appease them.

Mourners on Wednesday lowered the bodies of 89 of the victims, wrapped in white cloth, into a long line of graves dug out at the local Shiite cemetery in Quetta.

But a group of about 100 female relatives of the deceased tried to halt the funeral because they felt the government still hadn't met their demands, namely that the army lead an operation against militant groups responsible for the attacks.

The melee escalated as the women then tried to block a main highway close to the graveyard, said Shiite community leader Qayum Changezi. Angry relatives of the deceased pelted police and government officials with stones, Changezi also said.

Both police and relatives fired into the air _ the relatives in anger and the police to disperse the crowd _ said police officer Fayaz Sumbal.

Mourners scattered after the gunfire but the burial continued after the protest died down.

"We had refused to bury our dear ones with a hope that the government will take concrete steps by arresting the killers, but so far no attacker has been arrested,'' said Mohammed Mahdi, 16, who lost his father in the bombing. He said he now fears for his family's safety.

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