At least 43 Shi’ite Muslims have been killed and 13 wounded when gunmen opened fire on their bus in Karachi.
Pakistan has seen a rising tide of sectarian violence in recent years, particularly against Shi’ites who make up about 20 per cent of the country’s predominantly Muslim population of 200 million.
“According to the initial information which we have received from hospitals, 43 people have been killed and 13 wounded,” Ghulam Haider Jamali, police chief of Sindh province told reporters.
“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.”
Television images from the scene showed a large pink bus that had been stained by blood in some parts, while anxious relatives rushed to visit the wounded in nearby hospitals.
It was the worst anti-Shi’ite attack since January 30, when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a mosque in the southern Shikarpur district, killing 61.
Anti-Shi’ite attacks have been increasing in recent years in Karachi and also in the southwestern city of Quetta, the northwestern area of Parachinar and the far northeastern town of Gilgit.
About 1,000 Shi’ites have been killed in the past two years in Pakistan, with many of the attacks claimed by the hardline Sunni group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) who view them as heretics.
Ismaili Shi’ites are known for their progressive Islamic views.
Their spiritual leader Prince Karim Aga Khan is a globally renowned philanthropist and business magnate.
Wednesday’s attack comes as Pakistan steps up its efforts against militants following a Taliban massacre of 150 people, mainly children, in a school in Peshawar last year.