Pakistan: 13 killed as gunmen target Shias

Thirteen people were killed and 16 others kidnapped in separate attacks by pro-Taliban militants.

Last Updated: Mar 25, 2011, 20:53 PM IST

Peshawar: Thirteen people were killed and
16 others kidnapped in separate attacks by pro-Taliban
militants on two convoys of vehicles carrying members of the
minority Shia community in the tribal belt of northwest
Pakistan today, officials said.

In the first incident, militants ambushed a convoy of
vehicles in the Kurram tribal region.

The vehicles, which were coming from Kurram Agency to
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa capital Peshawar, were attacked in Bagan
town.

The 13 people killed and eight more injured were all
Shias, officials said.

Eight persons were killed instantly while others died
in hospital.

The attackers set two vehicles on fire before fleeing.
Security forces cordoned off the area and launched a
search for the attackers.

In the second incident, militants targeted another
convoy at Medani Dam in Kurram Agency at noon and hijacked a
vehicle with 16 people in it.

The vehicle was taken to an undisclosed location in
the restive tribal region.

Three persons injured in the attack were taken to
nearby hospitals.

There were reports that the militants kidnapped 45
people and took them away in three vehicles but this could not
be independently confirmed.

No group claimed responsibility for either attack.
Local residents said there had been four attacks
within a fortnight on Shias, who travel to and from Peshawar
in convoys escorted by security forces due to fears of
assaults by the Taliban.

About 10 people were killed and 15 injured in the two
previous attacks.

Kurram Agency and the adjoining Hangu district of
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province have witnessed numerous incidents
of sectarian clashes between majority Sunnis and minority
Shias in the past few years.

Dozens have died in these incidents.
Shia leaders condemned today`s attacks and said the
security forces had failed to protect the convoys.

All main roads to Kurram Agency were reopened in
February after being closed for almost four years.

Rival Shia and Sunni groups had closed roads in areas
controlled by them and they were reopened under an agreement.

In a separate development, security forces targeted
militant hideouts and killed seven suspected rebels in Orakzai
tribal region, officials said.

Two militant hideouts were destroyed in the attacks in
Shakartangi, Ghaljo and Mamezai areas.

In yet another incident, pro-Taliban militants blew up
two girls` primary schools in Khyber Agency.

The militants targeted the Hukum Khan Girls` School
and Azam Khel Primary School with explosives in Landi Kotal
area.

The schools were destroyed though no casualties were
reported.

Over 45 schools have been destroyed in Khyber Agency
in the past few months.

The majority of schools targeted by militants were
girls` schools.

PTI