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Pakistani soldiers killed; Quetta in turmoil

Pakistan has been shaken again by fatal bombings, this time in Waziristan. Meanwhile, the country's Prime Minister has made an appearance in Quetta, a city in turmoil after recent sectarian suicide bombings.

A bomb killed over a dozen soldiers in Pakistan on Sunday, as the country's prime minister was in the city of Quetta in a bid to appease Shiites protesting over bomb attacks that rocked the country only three days ago.

On Sunday a roadside bomb went off in the notoriously volatile nothern border area of North Waziristan, killing 14 Pakistani soldiers. Twenty one people were also injured in the attack, which took place 50 km (30 miles) south of the provincial capital Miranshah. The Pakistani Taliban had distributed pamphlets on Saturday telling the army to stop attacking the area.

Meanwhile, Pakistani Prime Minister, Raja Pervez Ashraf, arrived in Quetta, which is the provincial capital of Baluchistan, on Sunday. Demonstrators have refused requests by officials to bury those killed in bomb attacks which took place on Thursday, until their safety is guaranteed.

Shiite leader Ibrahim Hazara says those protesting want the provisional government to be booted out and the army to oversee the running of the city instead, a sentiment which strongly comes across in statements by demonstrators.

"We want assurances that the killers will be arrested so our younger children will not die also," said Sakina Bibi, 56, in an interview with the Reuters news agency while sitting next to the coffins of two of her sons.

"They were my everything," she said, crying. "Sitting here will not bring them back but it is our right to protest."

Extremist Sunni militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has claimed responsibility for a string of bombings in Pakistan, including two suicide blasts at a snooker club in Quetta, a known hang-out spot for mostly Shiites. At least 115 people died in the attacks.

Shiites make up around 20 percent of Pakistan's population of 180 million. Fatal sectarian violence has been increasing in Pakistan even though casualties from other forms of militant violence have decreased. More than 400 Shiites were murdered last year in blasts and gun attacks, according to Human Rights Watch.

sej/msh (AP, Reuters)

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