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Pakistan: First Attack on Ismaili Shiite Muslim Minority

Thursday 14 May 2015, by siawi3


“The vehicle was carrying men, women and children from the Ismaili Muslim community.” Gunmen Attack Bus – Kill 43: Women, Men, Children

By Sophia Saifi and Jethro Mullen, CNN

May 13, 2015

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN)
Gunmen on motorbikes attacked a bus carrying members of a religious minority in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi on Wednesday, killing 43 people and wounding 19 others, hospital officials said.

After the attack, the bus was driven into a hospital parking lot with bullet holes riddled all along its side, said Salma Wahid, an official at the Memon Medical Institute Hospital in Karachi.
Most of the people in the bus were unconscious and splattered with blood, she said.

Minority group targeted

The vehicle was carrying men, women and children from the Ismaili Muslim community, said Ahmed Chinoy, chairman of the Citizen Police Liaison Committee in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest and most populous city.
A violent extremist group that persecutes Pakistan’s Shiite Muslim minority claimed responsibility for the attack and vowed to carry out more.

Ismailism is a Shiite sect. Unlike some other Shiite groups, Ismailis hadn’t been heavily targeted by militants in Pakistan previously.
“This is the first such incident of its kind towards the Ismaili community,” said Zohra Yusuf, the chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. “Nothing on this scale has ever been seen before.”

Most victims shot in the head

The gunmen appeared to have been well-prepared for the attack. Most of the victims were shot in the head, said Pir Muhammad Shah, senior superintendent of police for East Karachi.
Jundallah, a militant group that targets Shiites, claimed responsibility through a spokesman, Ahmad Marwat. He said four of the group’s members took part in the attack, two fewer than the number given by police.
“We will continue such attacks,” he warned, saying Pakistan’s Shiites and the Ahmadi religious minority are the group’s “main targets.”

Wednesday’s attack was “disturbing in terms of the fact that the definition of who is a proper Muslim is shrinking as far as the extremist groups are concerned,” Yusuf told CNN.
Twenty-six males and 17 females were killed, said Sultan Ahmad, of the Memon Medical Institute Hospital in Karachi. The youngest person to die was 16 years old, Ahmad said.
The chief of Pakistan’s powerful military, Gen. Raheel Sharif, canceled a planned trip to Sri Lanka because of the violence, a military spokesman said on Twitter.

Sectarian attacks

Shiites are regularly the victims of sectarian attacks in Sunni-majority Pakistan.
A bombing in January at a Shiite mosque in the city of Shikarpur, which like Karachi is in Sindh province, killed scores of people. That attack was claimed by Jundallah.
An attack in February on a Shiite mosque in the northwestern city of Peshawar killed at least 19 people and injured dozens of others. The Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility for those killings.
Members of the Ismaili sect are dotted throughout dozens of countries, primarily in South and Central Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Their leader is the Aga Khan, who they believe is a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed.
The Ismaili community in Pakistan is “mostly apolitical and keeps a low profile,” said Yusuf.