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Pakistan’s Shi'ite Community Under Attack Again

  • Ayesha Tanzeem

Shi'ite Muslims attend the funeral for victims of an ambush by gunmen on a car, in Quetta, Pakistan, Oct. 9, 2017.

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.

Ambulances from local NGOs rush to the scene of an attack on Pakistan's Hazara, Shi'ite minority, Oct. 09, 2017. (Abdul Sattar Kakar/VOA Urdu)
Ambulances from local NGOs rush to the scene of an attack on Pakistan's Hazara, Shi'ite minority, Oct. 09, 2017. (Abdul Sattar Kakar/VOA Urdu)

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.

FILE - Pakistani worshippers sit outside a shrine after a bomb blast in Jhal Magsi, about 400 kilometers (240 miles) east of Quetta, Pakistan, Oct. 5, 2017.
FILE - Pakistani worshippers sit outside a shrine after a bomb blast in Jhal Magsi, about 400 kilometers (240 miles) east of Quetta, Pakistan, Oct. 5, 2017.

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.

Emergency workers from local NGO Eidhi Foundation covering dead bodies in a morgue after an attack on the minority Hazara Shi'ites in Pakistan's city Quetta, Oct. 9, 2017. (Abdul Sattar Kakar/VOA Urdu)
Emergency workers from local NGO Eidhi Foundation covering dead bodies in a morgue after an attack on the minority Hazara Shi'ites in Pakistan's city Quetta, Oct. 9, 2017. (Abdul Sattar Kakar/VOA Urdu)

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.

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