Gunmen attack Shiite Muslims in Pak, kill 13

Last Updated: Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 21:38

Islamabad: In yet another attack targeting
Shia Muslims in Pakistan, militants belonging to outlawed
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group on Tuesday stormed a bus carrying members
from the minority community, gunning down at least 13 of them
and injuring seven more in the restive Balochistan province.

Three gunmen travelling in a pick-up truck stopped the
bus with about 30 passengers in Akhtarabad area on the
outskirts of provincial capital Quetta, witnesses said.

Two gunmen then entered the bus and fired
indiscriminately, they said.

Thirteen men, most of them Shia Hazaras, were killed and
seven others injured, police said.

The injured were taken to the Bolan Medical Complex and
those with critical wounds were shifted to Quetta`s military
hospital.

Officials described the condition of three of the injured
as serious.

The attackers fled from the area before it was cordoned
off by police and paramilitary Frontier Corps personnel.

Witnesses said all the slain men were labourers who were
going to a fruit and vegetable market for work.

Ali Sher Haidry, a spokesman for Lashkar-e-Jhangvi,
telephoned reporters in Quetta and claimed responsibility for
the killings.

Haidry had made similar claims for attacks on Shias in
the past.

The claim came hours after the Chief Justice of
Balochistan High Court banned the publication of threatening
statements from militants.

City police chief Ahsan Mehboob removed a police officer
from his post for failing to provide security to the bus in
the wake of several attacks on vehicles carrying Shia Hazaras
in Quetta and nearby areas.

Large number of Hazaras gathered at the Bolan Medical
Complex and staged a protest against the attack.
The bus that was attacked was set on fire by angry
protesters.

Protesters shouted slogans against the police and the
government for their failure to prevent attacks on Shias.

Some protesters accused the authorities of being in
league with terrorists and demanded a targeted operation and a
crackdown on those who were attacking the Hazaras.

Police said security has been stepped up at all exit
points of Quetta to prevent the attackers fleeing the city.

Dozens of Hazaras, who stand out from the local
population because of their distinct features, have been
killed in sectarian attacks over the past few months.

Nearly 30 Hazaras were killed in attacks on a bus
carrying Shia pilgrims and another vehicle near Quetta last
month. Six more pilgrims were killed within Quetta city.

The pilgrims were heading to neighbouring Iran to visit
shrines and sacred places.

The Shia Ulema Council, Hazara Democratic Party,
Tahaffuz-e-Azadari Council and the local chapter of the
Muttahida Qaumi Movement condemned today`s attack.
The Shia Ulema Council called for three days of mourning.

Members of Parliament condemned the targeted killings of
Hazaras in Quetta severely criticised the Balochistan
government for failing to protect the community.

Some lawmakers demanded the imposition of Governor`s Rule
in Balochistan.

Speaking in the National Assembly or lower house of
Parliament on a point of order, ruling PPP lawmaker Farahnaz
Ispahani condemned the killing of the Hazaras in Quetta and
urged Interior Minister Rehman Malik to take notice of the law
and order situation in Balochistan.

The killings were also condemned by Parliamentarians from
the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, PML-N and PML-Q.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 11:11

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