QUETTA: Four women belonging to the Shia Hazara community were killed and another suffered serious injuries when gunmen opened fire on a bus here on Tuesday.
Police saw the incident as a sectarian attack which has revived memories of earlier deadly assaults on the community in the city.
The bus carrying about 30 passengers was going to Hazara Town from the city terminal.
A police official quoted the passengers as saying that when the bus reached the Pudgali area on Karani Road, it was intercepted by gunmen riding a motorcycle.
The assailants opened fire at the front section of the bus reserved for women, the passengers said. Five women were wounded receiving multiple bullet injuries.
They were shifted by police and Frontier Corps personnel to the Bolan Medical College Hospital where four of them were pronounced dead on arrival. The fifth woman was admitted to the hospital and her condition was stated to be serious.
There were unconfirmed reports of injuries to a man as well.
“It seems to be a sectarian attack,” police officials said, adding that an investigation had been launched.
No group has claimed responsibility for the incident so far. Quetta has over the years witnessed a number of deadly attacks on the Shia Hazara community claimed by militants belonging to banned sectarian organisations.
Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri strongly condemned the tragic incident, sought a report and directed law enforcement agencies to ensure the arrest of perpetrators of the assault.
He also issued directives for beefing up security at Imambargahs and other places of worship.
The city administration has deployed extra personnel of Frontier Corps, police and other law enforcement agencies in and around Imambargahs and other places of worship.
Apart from numerous sporadic attacks on people belonging to the Shia Hazara community over more than a decade, the community has also been targets of massive assaults.
In Feb 16, 2013, a bomb blast at a market in Hazara Town left 89 people dead.
As many as 81 people were killed and 121 injured in suicide and car bomb blasts in Alamdar Road area in Jan 2013.
Militants gunned down 26 people belonging to the community when they were travelling on a bus near Quetta on Sept 20, 2011.
In Sept 2010 a suicide bombing during a Shia rally in Quetta killed around 50 people and injured many others.
In March 2004 an Ashura procession was attacked in the city, which left 42 people dead and many injured. Most of the victims were Hazaras.
Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2016