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Shi'a End Protests After Suspects Arrested In Quetta Bombing


Pakistani Shi'ite Muslims gather around the coffins of the bombing victims as they demonstrate in Quetta on February 18.
QUETTA, Pakistan –- Shi'a in southwestern Pakistan have agreed to end three days of protests after the government took action against militants responsible for a bombing targeting their religious minority that killed 89 people.

Earlier, Pakistani officials announced that security forces had launched an operation in the Quetta area against Lashkar-e Jhangvi, the banned group responsible for the February 16 bombing, killing four of the group's members and arresting seven others.

Balochistan Province Home Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani said on February 19 that the four killed were "high-profile target killers" and described one of the seven arrested as a mastermind behind the bombing.

The agreement to end the protests was reached in talks Shi'ite Muslim leaders held on February 19 in Quetta with a government delegation sent from the capital, Islamabad.

Allama Amin Shaheede, a Shi'ite leader, said protesters would now bury the victims of the bombing.

Relatives had been refusing to bury the bodies until the government launched an operation against the militants.

Shi'ite Muslims were the target of the Quetta bombing and another bombing in the city in January that killed at least 86 people.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has criticized Quetta authorities for failing to prevent sectarian violence in the region.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and dpa