More than 40 Shiite Muslims have been killed in Karachi after attackers opened fire on a bus they were traveling in. This is the latest in a series of attacks on minorities in Pakistan.
At least 43 people belonging to the minority Ismaili Shiite community were killed after six gunmen riding motorcycles opened fire on a bus in Pakistan's southern city Karachi. At least 16 women were among the dead and 13 other passengers were wounded as the bus made its way to a mosque in the commercial hub, police said.
"Six terrorists came on three motorcycles, they entered the bus and began firing indiscriminately. They used 9mm pistols and all those killed and injured were hit by the 9mm pistols," Ghulam Hyder Jamali, police chief of Sindh province, told journalists.
The Jundullah group, affiliated to the Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack. "These killed people were Ismaili and we consider them kafir [heretics]. We had four attackers. In the coming days we will attack Ismailis, Shiites and Christians," Reuters news agency quoted Jundullah spokesman Ahmed Marwat as saying.
The Sindh province administration condemned the attack. "They were innocent people," Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah said, adding that his government felt "very sorry for this ghastly act."
Attacks on minorities rise
Terror strikes on minorities have increased since Islamabad stepped up its efforts against militants after terrorists brutally gunned down over 150 people, mostly children, in a Peshawar school.
Over 1,000 Shiites have been killed in targeted attacks in the past two years. The biggest attack this year was in January, when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a mosque in the northern Shikarpur district, killing over 60. At least 20 people were killed in February in yet another Shiite mosque attack in Peshawar.
Shiites make up 20 percent of the population in Pakistan, which is a Sunni majority country. The Ismaili Shiites follow their spiritual leader, Prince Karim Aga Khan, who is a globally renowned philanthropist and business magnate. However, the Ismailis, together with other Shiite groups like the Bohri Muslims, are often attacked by the Taliban and affiliated groups, who consider them as heretics.
mg/msh (Reuters, dpa, AFP)