28 Shia Muslims shot dead by LeJ militants in Pak

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 20:52

Islamabad: Banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militants on Tuesday
shot dead 28 Shia Muslims in two back-to-back attacks
that also left several injured in the restive Balochistan
province of southwest Pakistan.

In the first incident, gunmen forced the pilgrims going to
Iran out of a bus, lined them up and sprayed bullets killing
26 of them on the spot and leaving six more seriously injured.
This is was one of the most brutal attacks on the minority
community in the recent past.

The bus was going from provincial capital Quetta to the
border town of Taftan.

The injured were taken to hospitals in Quetta, located
about 40 km from Mastung.

Shortly after the attack on the bus, militants ambushed a
vehicle carrying Shias at Akhtarabad on the outskirts of
Quetta, killing two men. Several others were injured.

The Shias were on their way to Mastung to collect the
bodies of their kin.

The militants who carried out both attacks escaped.

The banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for
the attack on the bus in calls made to newspapers in Quetta.

Mastung is considered a hub of the LeJ, a notorious
sectarian group that has carried out numerous attacks on Shias
across Pakistan.

Khushal Khan, the driver of the bus, told reporters that
the attackers blocked the road with a pick-up truck and
ordered passengers to get out of the vehicle.

"The attackers were carrying Kalahnikovs and rocket
launchers. After they opened fire, some of us escaped by
running away," Khan said.

Though security cover is usually provided to vehicles
carrying Shia pilgrims, Balochistan Home Secretary Naseebullah
Bazai said the pilgrims had not informed the Home Department
about their journey or sought security.

Khan, the bus driver, said about 45 people were in the
vehicle.

He said security forces arrived at the site an hour after
the attack.

The Shias were travelling to Taftan, a border town from
where they intended to cross over to Iran for a pilgrimage.

Members of the minority Shia community have been
repeatedly attacked in Balochistan, including in the
provincial capital Quetta.

President Asif Ali Zardari condemned the attack on the
bus, describing it as an inhuman and brutal act of terrorism.

He said such cowardly acts cannot dent the government`s
resolve to fight terrorism to the finish.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 20:21

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