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PAKISTAN: Execution-style attack kills 13

October 4, 2011 |  5:49 am

Pakistan
REPORTING FROM ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN -- Gunmen ordered passengers off of a bus outside the southwestern city of Quetta on Tuesday and shot 13 of them to death execution-style, in what appeared to be the latest in a series of sectarian attacks on Pakistan's minority Shiite Muslim community.

The killings come two weeks after an almost identical attack Sept. 20 outside the town of Mastung, about 30 miles south of Quetta. In that attack, gunmen in a pickup truck stopped a bus filled with Shiite pilgrims on their way to Iran, ordered the passengers out and then opened fire, killing 26 people.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni Muslim extremist organization with a long history of brutality against the country's minority Shiite community, claimed responsibility for that attack.

In Tuesday's attack, gunmen on motorcycles forced the bus to stop, and then demanded that everyone come out and stand in a line, local officials said. The gunmen then opened fire. Twelve of the dead were Shiite Muslims; the other victim was a Sunni Muslim. Seven other people were injured.

Most of the Shiite Muslims who live in the southwestern province of Balochistan, where the latest attacks occurred, are members of the Hazara community, a tribe spanning Afghanistan and Pakistan. Local officials say they have been providing security escorts to buses containing large groups of Shiite Hazara passengers, particularly when the journeys cover long distances. However, authorities say they were not notified about the bus attacked Tuesday, which was on a short trip to a fruit market.

"We have been extremely concerned because of repeated attacks recently on the Hazara community," said Naseem Lehri, a top Quetta city official. "Even today, security was provided to three other buses carrying Hazara passengers. But we were not told about this particular bus."

Sunni extremist organizations such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi routinely carry out terror attacks on Shiite Muslims, who they regard as heretics. One of the deadliest attacks in recent years occurred in September 2010, when a suicide bomber targeted a ShiiteMuslim rally in Quetta, killing 57 people. About 15% of Pakistan's population is Shiite Muslim, while the majority is Sunni Muslim.

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-- Alex Rodriguez and Nasir Khan.

Khan is a special correspondent.

Photo: Funeral in Quetta, Pakistan. Credit: Waheed Khan / EPA.

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