ISLAMABAD - Gunmen in the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan attacked a bus carrying Shi’ite pilgrims to Iran yesterday, killing at least 25 people and wounding six, local police officials said.
The driver of the bus told police that eight to 10 attackers ordered the pilgrims off the bus and then opened fire on them, the police said.
Hours after the attack, Lashkar-i-Jangvi, an extremist Sunni group that authorities say carried out previous attacks against Shi’ites in Baluchistan, claimed responsibility for the attack on the bus. The group is believed to be affiliated with Al Qaeda.
The attack occurred at Mastung, about 30 miles south of Quetta, the provincial capital, along the road to the Iran-Pakistan border. About 50 passengers were on the bus when it was attacked, according to Saeed Imrani, the local deputy police commissioner.
Attacks on Shi’ite pilgrims traveling to Iran through Baluchistan have been frequent over the past decade. Two such attacks occurred last month. A year ago, 57 people at a Shi’ite rally in Quetta were killed by a suicide bomber.
Shi’ites are a minority in Pakistan, whose population is mainly Sunni Muslim. In Baluchistan, most Shi’ites belong to the Hazara ethnic group, who are also numerous in Afghanistan and Iran.