Irfan Ali, Pakistani rights activist, killed in Quetta bombing


Pakistani journalists shout slogans against the killing of media persons, in bomb attacks in Quetta, at a protest in Karachi on January 11, 2013.



The Pakistani province of Baluchistan has declared three days of mourning after a series of deadly blasts rocked the provincial capital Quetta on Thursday.

At least 80 people were killed when twin blasts hit a billiard hall in a busy commercial area, and another 11 people were killed by another bomb in a market area, the BBC reported. At least 22 people were killed the same day by a third blast at a Sunni mosque in Mingora.

Among those killed in the billiard hall bombing was Pakistani rights activist Irfan Ali.

Ali, 33, was helping the injured from the first blast when he was killed by the second, The New York Times reported.

He narrowly escaped the initial explosion, as he noted on his Twitter feed:

The final message he posted expressed his concern that the militant group behind the attack had succeeded in driving some Hazara families from their homes, as The Times wrote.

"He was a very active, energetic activist," said Tahir Hussain, a lawyer and vice chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan's Baluchistan chapter, according to the Associated Press. Hussain said Ali had worked with the HRCP and often wrote about social issues and the oppression of the Hazaras, a Shiite minority that migrated from Afghanistan.

From Karachi, GlobalPost's Mariya Karimjee reported that Ali, an ethnically Hazara Shiite, had been in Quetta as part of the Y-Peer Network, a UN affiliate, to give peace training. His brother and brother-in-law were also wounded in the attack, and are currently in the hospital in critical condition, Karimjee said.

"The online response to Irfan's death has been tremendous," she added.

Ali's colleagues at the Y-Peer Network wrote on Facebook:

103 people lost their lives today in different attacks in Quetta and Swat, but out of 69 who died in a sectarian attack on a bustling billiard hall in the southwest city of Quetta, one is Irfan Ali — a great human right activist, peace lover and a district focal point of Y-Peer Pakistan — who lost his life while taking the victims of the first blast to the hospital. And in the second blast, he become prey of those who want to divide the humanity on the basis of sects, religions, and who kill people for the sake of their own interest. 

GlobalPost writer Mariya Karimjee contributed reporting from Karachi, Pakistan.

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