There have been several bombs targeting Pakistan's minority Shia population in recent weeks, the latest killing at least 90 in a crowded market.
A massive explosion on Saturday at a crowded market in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta killed 80 to 90 people and wounded nearly 200, primarily Shi'a Muslims (NYT, LAT, AP, ET, CNN, Reuters, BBC). The attack took place in an area dominated by the city's minority Hazaras, a Shi'a sect that is often the target of violent sectarian attacks by Sunni extremists. Hundreds of Hazara women staged a sit-in on Sunday to protest the blast, refusing to bury their dead until authorities pledged to hunt down the perpetrators (NYT, AP, ET, Dawn, BBC). And thousands of Shi'a Muslims protested across Pakistan on Monday, demanding that the country's security forces protect them from violent Sunni extremists (Post, AP, The News, DT, ET, Dawn).
News reports in Pakistan say the devastating bombing could have been prevented if military intelligence and police officers had followed up sufficiently on evidence gathered against a faction of the notorious Sunni extremist terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi that was responsible for the double-suicide bombing in Quetta on January 10 that killed over 100 Shi'a Muslims (The News). Pakistani authorities, and particularly the powerful military, are under intense pressure from the public to stem what many are calling genocide of Pakistani Shi'as (Guardian, Reuters).
On Tuesday, Pakistani officials announced that a security operation will take place in response to the Quetta bombing, and also replaced the police chief of Balochistan Province (AP, Dawn, ET). The statement from Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf's office did not provide any details on the operation, and came as Shi'a Muslims protested for the third day in Quetta against the government's failure to prevent the attack.
Attacks on Shias by Sunnis are increasing because of the pressure the government is putting on radical groups in the NWFP. The army has had limited success in dealing with the problem of extremists and would like to negotiate a solution. So far, they haven't had any luck.
The LeJ and other terrorists have been ignored or actively encouraged by the government because they attack Indian targets in Kashmir and elsewhere. That they are now experiencing blowback is the price the Pakistanis are paying for harboring and supporting terrorists.