At least 45 people, including women, were killed and over 13 others injured when armed men opened indiscriminate fire on a bus carrying Ismaeli community people near Safora Goth here on Wednesday morning.
A gang of unidentified gunmen stormed the bus on Kiran Hospital Road. Rescue sources said the bodies and injured were shifted to different hospitals of the metropolis. Poliec said six attackers, riding three motorcycles, embarked on the bus and opened fire on those who were travelling in it. Sources aid 60 to 65 people were travelling in the ill-fated bus towards Aisha Manzil.
Sindh Police Inspector General Ghulam Haider Jamali said that 60 people were on board the bus when it came under attack. He said that the armed men used 9mm pistols in the massacre. The attackers managed to flee after swift operation.
Hospital sources have so far confirmed that the dead include 25 men and 16 women. Police officials said that there were no children among the casualties. According to reports, the bus belongs to the Al-Azhar Garden Colony, which is an Ismaili community housing project in Karachi. It was on its regular route headed towards Federal B Area of Karachi.
Heavy contingents of police and rangers rushed to the scene and took the situation in control. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has taken notice of the incident and called a report from the Interior Ministry about the incident. Sindh Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah has announced Rs500,000 compensation for each victim and Rs 200,000 each for those injured in the incident. The government will bear all expenses for the treatment of the injured, the chief minister said.
The Sindh government called for observing a day of mourning on Thursday over deadly bus attack on Ismaili community in the metropolis. Public offices will fly flags at half-mast and a prayer will be offereed for the vitims.
Quami Movement has announced to observe day of mourning on Thursday, following the deadly attack on a Ismaili community bus in Karachi left at least 45 people dead. Founder and Leader of MQM Altaf Hussain requested that all businesses, educational institutions working and public transportation be suspended on Thursday to show solidarity with Ismaili Community.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also strongly condemned the attack. He sympathised with the victims. Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has condemned the attack and expressed great shock over the massacre. He said that this incident raises questions over the provincial government’s performance pertaining to peace.
After the tragic firing incident on a bus at Safora Goth, IGP Sindh Ghulam Hyder Jamali called an urgent meeting at Karachi Police office building (KPO), here today. IGP Sindh shared and discussed various possible aspects into the incident of terrorism and directed to upgrade the intelligence apparatus and conduct targeted raids ensuring arrest of involved terrorists.
Reviewing over all law & order situation, IG Sindh said that it was imperative to revisit in-placed security plan and to adopt extra ordinary measures to ensure safety to the lives and properties of the citizens. He further directed to beef up security at all public places including mosques, imambaraghas, Jama’at Khanas, mazars, shopping areas, bus stands, vehicle stops etc. Jamali also directed to ensure safety and security at all worship places of minority communities, vital installations and government and semi-government buildings.
The spiritual leader of the Ismaili community His Highness Aga Khan expressed shock and sorrow over the attack on a bus carrying Ismailis near Safoora Chowk in Karachi which left 43 dead and 13 wounded. “This attack represents a senseless act of violence against a peaceful community. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and the families of those killed and wounded in the attack,” said a statement posted on the Aga Khan Development Network website. The statement said that Ismailis are a peaceful global community that live in harmony with various other ethnic and religious groups across the world. The statement added that other Ismaili leaders in Pakistani are currently involved in an emergency operation to help the survivors of the attack.
AFP Report Update
Karachi – At least 43 members of Pakistan’s Shiite Ismaili minority were killed when gunmen opened fire on their bus in Karachi on Wednesday, police said, with a leaflet at the scene claiming the attack on behalf of the Islamic State group.
It was the second deadliest militant attack in Pakistan this year after 62 Shiite Muslims were killed in a suicide bombing in late January.
Pakistan has seen a rising tide of sectarian violence in recent years, particularly against Shiites, who make up around 20 percent 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 at the site.
“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,” he said.
A senior member of the Ismaili National Council, a community group that represents the Ismaili branch of Shiites confirmed the toll.
A security official later showed AFP a copy of a torn and blood-stained pamphlet claiming responsibility on behalf of the Islamic State group — the second time in as many months that such material has been discovered at the scene of an attack in Karachi.
Police handed over similar leaflets to reporters after the shooting of US national Debra Lobo, a member of faculty at the city’s Jinnah Medical and Dental College, on April 16, but analysts remain doubtful over their authenticity.
The leaflets, seen by AFP, are plain printed text documents with no IS emblems or insignia and there has been no confirmation from the group’s leadership in the Middle East that it has carried out any attacks inside Pakistan.
– Anguished relatives –
At the city’s Memon Hospital Institute, where most of the wounded were rushed, crying relatives formed a human chain outside the main building to keep onlookers away.
A sobbing middle-aged man told AFP: “I have come to collect the body of my young son. He was a student preparing for his first year exams at college.”
The bus itself, which had been driven after the attack to the hospital, was blood-drenched and riddled with bullet holes.
Anti-Shiite 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.
Around 1,000 Shiites 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 Shiites are known for their progressive Islamic views. Their spiritual leader Prince Karim Aga Khan is a globally renowned philanthropist and business magnate.
– IS concerns –
The 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.
In the aftermath of the attack the government ended a six-year moratorium on executions, passed legislation to create military courts for terrorism cases, and pledged to crack down on all militant groups.
There have also been concerns about the IS group tapping support in Pakistan, a country awash with dozens of militant groups.
Leaflets calling for support of IS jihadists have been seen over recent months in parts of northwest Pakistan and pro-IS slogans have appeared on walls in several cities.
Some disaffected Pakistani Taliban cadres have also said they have switched allegiance to IS, but the true extent of links to the group’s Middle East operations remains unclear.
Karachi, a sprawling city of roughly 20 million, has long had a reputation for high crime rates as well as ethnic, political and sectarian violence.
But the violence has significantly fallen since 2013 after police and paramilitary rangers launched a crackdown that rights activists say has led to extra-judicial killings of suspected criminals and militants.