Pakistan’s Shi’ite Community Under Attack Again
Unknown gunmen opened fire on members of Pakistan’s Hazara community in the northwestern city Quetta Monday morning, killing four Hazaras along with a bystander.
Local police said the gunmen were waiting near a speed breaker in the road and opened fire when a car carrying Hazaras slowed down. They then escaped on a motorcycle.
The Hazara community, a sub-sect of Shi’ites in Pakistan living mostly in Baluchistan province, is a frequent target of sectarian militants.
Their distinctive facial features, believed to be a result of Mongolian and Central Asian Turkic ancestry, make them stand out amidst the local population.
Last month, a similar attack on a family of Hazaras killed four, including a 12 year old boy, as they stopped their car at a gas station.
Most such attacks are claimed by a proscribed Sunni militant group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami. It is believed by some to be a local partner for the Islamic State group.
Last year, the group’s spokesman told Reuters, after a deadly shrine attack claimed by IS, that it played a supporting role.
“Right now, in Pakistan, and especially in the cities, wherever there are attacks taking place, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami is cooperating with them [IS] either directly or indirectly,” spokesman Ali bin Sufyan told Reuters via instant messaging.
The latest attack comes within days of a suicide bombing of a Shi’ite shrine in Baluchistan that killed at least 20 people. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for that.
According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, there have been 12 sectarian attacks in Pakistan in 2017 alone, killing almost 200 people. Most of those attacks were against the Shi’ites in various parts of the country.