KARACHI - Gunmen on motorcycles boarded a bus and opened fire on commuters in Karachi on Wednesday, killing at least 43, police said, in the latest attack directed against religious minorities this year.
The pink bus was pockmarked with bullet holes and blood saturated the seats and dripped out of the doors on to the concrete.
“As the gunmen climbed on to the bus, one of them shouted, ‘Kill them all!’ Then they started indiscriminately firing at everyone they saw,” a wounded woman told a television channel by phone.
Police Superintendent Najib Khan told Reuters there were six gunmen and that all the passengers were Ismailis.
Outside the hospital where the wounded were taken, and where the bus was parked, scores of grim-faced young men formed a human chain to block everyone but families and doctors.
Emails and Facebook posts on Ismaili pages encouraged the community not respond or say anything that might further endanger them.
Uzma Alkarim, a member of the Ismaili community, said the bus took commuters to work every day. The Ismailis had faced threats before, she said.
“Around six months ago, our community elders had alerted us to be careful because of security threats but things had calmed down recently,” she said.
English leaflets left in the bus were headlined “Advent of the Islamic State!” and used a derogatory Arabic word for Shi’ites, blaming them for “barbaric atrocities ... in the Levant, Iraq and Yemen”.
The leaflets also blamed Shi’ites for a deadly sectarian attack in Rawalpindi and raged against extrajudicial killings by police.
In January, 60 people were killed when Jundullah bombed a Shi’ite mosque in Shikarpur. The Taliban bombed another Shi’ite mosque in Peshawar weeks later.
MAMNOON CONDEMNS MASSACRE
Staff Reporter from Islamabad adds: President Mamnoon Hussain has strongly condemned the attack on a bus carrying Ismaili passengers in Karachi on Wednesday which resulted in the killing of innocent people including women.
Expressing deep grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives in the dastardly attack, the President emphasised that the nation and government are committed to eliminate militancy and terrorism from the country.
The President said that the terrorists have no religion and such heinous incident cannot deter the resolve of the nation.
The President stated that the whole nation is united and anti-State elements cannot succeed in their hideous agendas.
The President called for apprehending and meting out exemplary punishment to the perpetrators and elements behind the gruesome incident.
The President offered his condolences to the bereaved families. The President also directed the authorities concerned to ensure the best medical treatment to the injured.