Thousands of Hazara Shias are protesting on a highway in southern Quetta city with the bodies of miners killed on Sunday, seeking a meeting with PM Imran Khan and demanding an end to the persecution of the ethnic group.

People offer prayers beside a tent with the bodies of coal miners from Pakistan's minority Shia Hazara community, as they protest demanding justice, in Quetta, on January 5, 2021.
People offer prayers beside a tent with the bodies of coal miners from Pakistan's minority Shia Hazara community, as they protest demanding justice, in Quetta, on January 5, 2021. (Reuters)

Members of the Shia Hazara minority in Pakistan who have blockaded a highway in Quetta with the bodies of slain coal miners have said they will not withdraw until Prime Minister Imran Khan meets them and the killers are brought to justice.

"We have become tired of picking up the bodies of our people," Syed Agha Raza, a Hazara Shia political leader, told Reuters news agency on Tuesday. 

Masooma Yaqoob Ali said her elder brother along with four other relatives were among those killed.

"Now we have no male member [of our family] to take coffins of our brother and other relatives to the graveyard for burial," she said, shedding tears as she spoke.

Daesh terrorists slit the throats of 11 miners in a residential compound near a mine site in Pakistan's Balochistan province on Sunday, filming the entire incident and later posting it online.

Thousands of Hazaras have since staged a protest, arranging the coffins across a highway in the provincial capital Quetta.

READ MORE: Thousands mourn slain Hazara miners in Pakistan's Balochistan

Mourners refuse to bury bodies

The protesters are refusing to bury the victims of the attack until demands, which include the resignation of the provincial government, are met. 

Protests also occurred on Tuesday in Karachi, Pakistan's large southern city.

Balochistan Home Secretary Hafiz Basid told Reuters at least nine of the victims were from neighbouring Afghanistan, and two bodies had thus far been taken there for burial. 

Afghanistan's Foreign Office said in a statement that seven of the dead were Afghan, and both sides were investigating the incident together.

READ MORE: The trouble with being Hazara in Pakistan's Quetta city

Years of persecution

Ethnic Hazara Shias have faced persecution by extremists in both countries. Some Afghan Hazaras come to Pakistan for work in the winter, including at the coal mine in Balochistan.

Hundreds of Hazaras have been killed over the last decade in attacks in Pakistan, including bombings in schools and crowded markets and brazen ambushes of buses along Pakistani roads. 

READ MORE: Gunmen kill Hazara coal miners in southwest Pakistan

Source: Reuters