Pakistani police say gunmen have killed four women in an attack on a bus carrying members of the country’s Shiite minority in the southwestern city of Quetta.
Police spokesman Shahzada Farhat says another woman and a man were wounded in Tuesday’s attack. Farhat says the attackers fled the scene on motorcycles and that police have launched a search operation.
No one claimed the attack, but the Lashker-e-Jhangvi group has claimed similar attacks on Shiites in the past, The Associated Press reported.
Officials say they suspect the attack was of a hate nature and that an investigation was launched into the incident.
“This attack on Hazaras’ bus could be sectarian but we are still investigating it,” Qambar Dashti, Quetta city’s commissioner, said.
Shiites in Pakistan have been the subject of numerous attacks, with the Pakistani faction of the Taliban carrying out most of such assaults in the past. The community accounts for some 20 percent of Pakistan’s 200-million population and is mostly based in Baluchistan, an area which borders Iran and Afghanistan and has oil and gas resources. However, security has been a main issue for the Shiites as thousands of them have been killed as a result of militancy and hate attacks over the past decade.
According to a report by Press TV, other areas of Pakistan have seen similar attacks against the Shiites. In one case, 43 members of the country’s Shiite Ismaili minority were killed in the southern port city of Karachi in May last year when their bus was stopped and sprayed with bullets. Terrorists loyal to ISIS, the Takfiri group based in Iraq and Syria, claimed the attack.