At least four Shia women were martyred when assailants opened fire on a bus
in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province Tuesday evening, local officials said.
4 Shia women martyred in bus attack
The incident, the latest in a series of sectarian attacks, occurred in Quetta, the capital of the militancy-hit province, when assailants fired at a moving bus carrying around 40 passengers, Quetta’s Vice Mayor Yunus Baluch told reporters.
Four women, he said, were martyred on the spot, while one person was injured in the gunfire coming from gunmen riding two motorbikes along a busy city road.
Baluch said despite the gunfire the driver kept the bus moving forward, saving perhaps dozens of lives.
No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, but security forces suspect terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is behind the incident.
Pakistan has a long history of sectarian violence, with thousands of Shias and Sunnis Muslims with Wahhabi terrorists, having been killed over the last three decades.
Baluchistan, which is the size of Italy, and rich in copper, zinc, and natural gas, has been beset by sectarian violence and a low-intensity separatist movement by secular Baluch militants who have been fighting for cessation from Pakistan.
The Hazara community, which originally belongs to northern Afghanistan, and whose members are easily identifiable due to their Mongol features, has been a prime target of sectarian violence in Quetta for over a decade.
Hundreds of Hazara-Muslims, according to local media, have been martyred in suicide bombings and targeted attacks in Quetta alone in the last 10 years.
The community accounts for some 20 percent of Pakistan's 200-million population and is mostly based in Baluchistan, an area which borders Iran and Afghanistan and has oil and gas resources. However, security has been a main issue for the Shias as thousands of them have been martyred as a result of militancy and hate attacks.
Other areas of Pakistan have seen similar attacks against the Shias. In one case, 43 members of the country’s Shia Ismaili minority were killed in the southern port city of Karachi in May last year when their bus was stopped and sprayed with bullets. Terrorists loyal to Daesh, a Takfiri group based in Iraq and Syria, claimed the attack.