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Gunmen kill 43 in a bus in Karachi

By The Assam Tribune

Islamabad, May 13 (IANS): At least 43 people were killed and 20 injured when gunmen opened fire inside a bus carrying Ismaili Shia Muslims in the Pakistani port city of Karachi.

The incident took place near the city's Safoora Chowk area in the provincial capital of Sindh.

Sindh Police Inspector General Ghulam Haider Jamali said 60 people were travelling in the bus.

Hospital sources said the victims included 16 women. No children were on board.

An eyewitness said six men riding motorcycles opened fire at the bus. They managed to escape after the incident. However, video footage of the bus did not show bullet holes on the body of the vehicle suggesting that the attackers entered the bus and fired their guns.

Following the incident, Pakistan Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif cancelled his scheduled trip to Sri Lanka where he was to go on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah have strongly condemned the incident.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also condemned the incident.

"The attack in Karachi is deeply saddening & utterly condemnable. Our thoughts are with the families of the deceased," Modi tweeted. "We stand firmly with the people of Pakistan in this hour of grief. I wish all those injured quick recovery," he added.

Anti-Shia attacks in Pakistan on the rise:Pakistan has seen a rising tide of sectarian violence in recent times, particularly against Shias -- of which the Ismaili community is a sub-sect -- who make up around 20 percent of the country's predominantly Muslim population.

In the past, there have been instances of anti-Ismaili violence in Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan, mostly in the form of communal flare-ups. In 2013, a bomb attack at Karachi's Aisha Manzil killed four and injured 42 others. The outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan had claimed responsibility for the earlier attacks.

Wednesday's incident in Karachi in which 43 people belonging to the Ismaili community were gunned down in a bus was the worst anti-Shia attack in the country since January 30, when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a mosque in the southern Shikarpur district, killing 61.

Anti-Shia attacks have been increasing in recent years in Karachi and also in Quetta, the northwestern area of Parachinar and the far northeastern town of Gilgit.

At least 1,000 Shias have been killed in the past two years in Pakistan, with many of the attacks being claimed by the hardline Sunni group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), which views them as heretics.

Ismailis are known for their progressive Islamic views. Their spiritual leader Prince Karim Aga Khan is a globally renowned philanthropist and business magnate.

"The dead and injured have been shifted to a nearby hospital," an official of the Ismaili National Council, a group that represents the community, said after Wednesday's massacre.

The bus belonged to the Al-Azhar Garden Colony, an Ismaili community housing project in Karachi. It was on a regular run to Federal B Area of the port city of Karachi.

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Gunmen kill 43 in a bus in Karachi

Islamabad, May 13 (IANS): At least 43 people were killed and 20 injured when gunmen opened fire inside a bus carrying Ismaili Shia Muslims in the Pakistani port city of Karachi.

The incident took place near the city's Safoora Chowk area in the provincial capital of Sindh.

Sindh Police Inspector General Ghulam Haider Jamali said 60 people were travelling in the bus.

Hospital sources said the victims included 16 women. No children were on board.

An eyewitness said six men riding motorcycles opened fire at the bus. They managed to escape after the incident. However, video footage of the bus did not show bullet holes on the body of the vehicle suggesting that the attackers entered the bus and fired their guns.

Following the incident, Pakistan Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif cancelled his scheduled trip to Sri Lanka where he was to go on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah have strongly condemned the incident.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also condemned the incident.

"The attack in Karachi is deeply saddening & utterly condemnable. Our thoughts are with the families of the deceased," Modi tweeted. "We stand firmly with the people of Pakistan in this hour of grief. I wish all those injured quick recovery," he added.

Anti-Shia attacks in Pakistan on the rise:Pakistan has seen a rising tide of sectarian violence in recent times, particularly against Shias -- of which the Ismaili community is a sub-sect -- who make up around 20 percent of the country's predominantly Muslim population.

In the past, there have been instances of anti-Ismaili violence in Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan, mostly in the form of communal flare-ups. In 2013, a bomb attack at Karachi's Aisha Manzil killed four and injured 42 others. The outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan had claimed responsibility for the earlier attacks.

Wednesday's incident in Karachi in which 43 people belonging to the Ismaili community were gunned down in a bus was the worst anti-Shia attack in the country since January 30, when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a mosque in the southern Shikarpur district, killing 61.

Anti-Shia attacks have been increasing in recent years in Karachi and also in Quetta, the northwestern area of Parachinar and the far northeastern town of Gilgit.

At least 1,000 Shias have been killed in the past two years in Pakistan, with many of the attacks being claimed by the hardline Sunni group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), which views them as heretics.

Ismailis are known for their progressive Islamic views. Their spiritual leader Prince Karim Aga Khan is a globally renowned philanthropist and business magnate.

"The dead and injured have been shifted to a nearby hospital," an official of the Ismaili National Council, a group that represents the community, said after Wednesday's massacre.

The bus belonged to the Al-Azhar Garden Colony, an Ismaili community housing project in Karachi. It was on a regular run to Federal B Area of the port city of Karachi.