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Feb. 18, 2013 at 12:28 PM   |   Comments

Thousands decry deadly blast in Pakistan

QUETTA, Pakistan, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Thousands of Pakistanis took part in more than a dozen sit-ins Monday, two days after a bomb attack in Quetta killed at least 85 people, officials said.

Shops, markets and schools were closed in Karachi and demonstrators demanded the government seek out and arrest people involved in the attack on the Hazara community of Shiites, Geo TV News reported.

The blast Saturday injured at least 169 people, including women and children, Dawn News reported.

More than 20 men and women received life-threatening injuries.

About a dozen victims were so badly burned they could not be immediately identified.

The explosion, felt throughout Quetta, destroyed four markets and 100 shops.

A spokesman for the Shiite organization Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen said the sit-ins would continue "unless Quetta is handed over to the army for security," The News International reported.

The group's leader, Sajid Naqvi, blamed the attack on the lack of effective action against terrorists by the government.

"We have become a community of gravediggers," said Syed Dawood Agha, president of the Balochistan Shia Conference.


Lakers owner Jerry Buss, 80, dies

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Jerry Buss, who owned the Los Angeles Lakers for more than 30 years at a time when the team won 10 NBA championships, has died. He was 80.

Buss died Monday at a Los Angeles hospital of cancer, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing Buss spokesman Bob Steiner.

Buss, a real estate investor, bought the Lakers, Los Angeles Kings of the NHL and the Forum, from Jack Kent Cooke in 1979. He sold the Kings in 1987.

The Lakers took just one season under Buss to pick up an NBA championship, defeating the Philadelphia 76ers for the title in 1980. The Lakers regularly added titles, including winning three consecutive NBA championships over 2000-02 and two more in 2009 and '10.

In addition to success on the court, Buss was credited with making the team's games a must-attend event in Los Angeles. Movie stars, notably Jack Nicholson and Dyan Cannon, occupied court-side seats. He once said, "The Lakers are pretty damn Hollywood," the Times reported.

"Jerry Buss helped set the league on the course it is on today," NBA Commissioner David Stern told the Times. "Remember, he showed us it was about 'Showtime,' the notion that an arena can become the focal point for not just basketball, but entertainment. He made it the place to see and be seen."


Firefight in Peshawar leaves six dead

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- An attack on a government office in Peshawar, Pakistan, killed at least six people, including five security officials, and injured seven Monday, officials said.

A local government official said the militants, disguised in security uniforms, stormed the building during a transfer of inmates from one jurisdiction to another, China's state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

Witnesses said the attackers tried to free the prisoners and exchanged gunfire with security personnel. During the confrontation, the attackers lobbed hand grenades, killing six people at the scene.

Xinhua said several reports indicated another militant detonated his explosive jacket when security personnel tried to arrest him.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.


Chavez returns to Venezuela

CARACAS, Venezuela, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez used the social media website Twitter to announce his return to Venezuela from Cuba, where he has been treated for cancer.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro and another minister both confirmed Chavez returned to Caracas early Monday for continued treatment, CNN reported.

"We come back to the country of Venezuela," Chavez posted on his official Twitter account. "Thank God! Thank you dear people! Here we continue the treatment."

Chavez hasn't been seen or heard from much since he underwent surgery for cancer Dec. 11 in Cuba. Officials have been criticized for giving vague, sometimes contradictory, updates about the president's health.

On Friday, several photos of Chavez were released by the government, CNN said. The photos were taken Thursday evening at the Cuban hospital where the president has been treated, officials said.

Venezuelan Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said Chavez was having difficulty speaking after a tracheal tube was inserted.

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