14 Jan 2013

Pakistan PM attempts to defuse protest

2:00 pm on 14 January 2013

Pakistan's prime minister has bowed to protesters' demands and sacked the government of Balochistan province.

The minority Shia Muslim community in the provincial capital, Quetta, has been protesting about the lack of security since twin bomb attacks killed more than 90 people - most of them Shias - on Friday.

They have been occupying streets with shrouded coffins, refusing to bury the dead in accordance with Islamic custom.

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf travelled to the city for talks and announced live on television that he had accepted the protesters demands, including the sacking of the provincial government and the suspension of its legislature.

The bomb blasts in the city last week were said to have been carried out by Sunni extremists, the BBC reports.

Protesters had earlier rejected a delegation led by the Minister for Religious Affairs, Syed Khurshid Shah, which arrived on Saturday.

Pakistan's Shia minority make up about 20% of the country's predominantly Sunni population.