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Gunmen Kill 18 Shi'ites in NW Pakistan


Gilgit-bound passengers wait for a bus as transporters suspend their service due to firing on their buses, at a bus terminal in Islamabad, Pakistan, February 28, 2012.

Gilgit-bound passengers wait for a bus as transporters suspend their service due to firing on their buses, at a bus terminal in Islamabad, Pakistan, February 28, 2012.

Pakistani officials say gunmen disguised in military uniforms stopped a passenger bus in the northern part of the country and shot dead 18 Shi'ite passengers.

Police said the gunmen ambushed the bus en route to the northern town of Gilgit early Tuesday as it traveled through the mountainous district of Kohistan. The attackers boarded the bus, checked the identity of the passengers and opened fire on the Shi'ite passengers.

Local media quote representatives from the banned Sunni militant group Jundullah as claiming responsibility for the attack, which happened about 340 kilometers north of the capital, Islamabad.

Over the years, Pakistan has seen a series of sectarian attacks targeting the country's Shi'ite minority. Pakistan has a Sunni Muslim majority, and although most Sunnis and Shi'ites coexist peacefully, extremists often target members of each community.

Meanwhile, The Associated Press reported that the Pakistani Taliban, another Sunni Muslim extremist group, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Kohistan borders Swat Valley, a once powerful Taliban stronghold that the Pakistani military targeted several years ago in an effort to root out militants.

In other violence, officials in the northwestern city of Peshawar say an unknown assailant shot dead a Chinese woman and her male Pakistani companion, while they were in a historic part of the city.

The circumstances of the shooting were not immediately clear, but according to an eyewitness, the two were taking pictures of a nearby church.

A Peshawar police spokesman said authorities have launched an investigation.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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