Monday 22 January 2018

Isil-linked gunmen kill 45 in attack on city bus

A Pakistani paramilitary troop stands guard near a bus targeted by attackers in Karachi, Pakistan. Photo: AP
A Pakistani paramilitary troop stands guard near a bus targeted by attackers in Karachi, Pakistan. Photo: AP
Ambulances and people gather gather outside the hospital after an attack on a bus in Karachi, Pakistan. Photo: Reuters

Adil Jawad in Karachi

Gunmen stormed a bus in southern Pakistan and ordered its Shi'ite Muslim passengers to bow their heads before shooting them, killing at least 45 people.

The attack was claimed by a Pakistani Taliban splinter group and an Isil affiliate.

The bus was in a relatively deserted area on the outskirts of Karachi en route to a community centre for a daily worship service for Ismaili Shi'ite Muslims when six gunmen boarded it.

Investigator Khadim Hussain said the attackers ordered the passengers to bow their heads and not look up before opening fire at close range.

Shell casings at the scene suggested the gunmen used both pistols and machine guns in their attack before fleeing on three motorcycles, police said. The attackers killed 45 people, including 16 women, and wounded 13.

Qadir Baluch, a security guard at a nearby building, said he heard the gunshots and saw at least one of the militants wearing a police uniform.

The attack riddled the bus with bullet holes, but its wounded driver could still drive it to a nearby hospital, said Mohammad Imran, a guard there. Imran said when he got on the bus later, he saw blood still seeping across its seats and floor. Blood stained Imran's own hands and uniform.

"I hardly saw any survivor," he said.

Pamphlets found nearby the site of the attack claimed an Isil affiliate carried it out, calling it revenge for the killing of their fellow fighters in Pakistan, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, police officer Najeeb Khan said.

Khan said the pamphlet read: "We swear that we will keep on making you and your families mourn in tears of blood."


Meanwhile, a man describing himself as a spokesman for a splinter faction of the Pakistani Taliban called Jundullah, or Army of God, claimed responsibility for the attack in a call to the media. The man, who called himself Ahmad Marwat, said "infidels were the target".

"They were innocent people," said Qaim Ali Shah, the chief minister of Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital. "We feel very sorry for this ghastly act."

Yesterday's attack was the deadliest in Pakistan since December, when Taliban militants killed 150 people, mostly young students, at an army-run school in Peshawar.

The Pakistani Taliban have been fighting for more than a decade to overthrow the government and impose a harsh version of Islamic law.

Irish Independent

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