Shooters gun down 18 Shias in Pakistan

Islamabad: In rising sectarian attacks in the country, unidentified gunmen intercepted a bus and gunned down 18 members of the minority Shia community in northern Pakistan today, officials said.

Seven others were injured in the attack this morning near Harban village in Kohistan district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, about 200 km from Islamabad.

The bus, which was going from the garrison city of Rawalpindi to Gilgit, was stopped by five to 10 gunmen, legislator Abdus Sattar Khan told the media. The gunmen forced the passengers out of the bus and checked their documents, including ID cards.

The gunmen then made the passengers stand in a line and opened fire at them, Khan said. Police officials said all the victims were Shias and that the bus was passing through an area dominated by Sunnis.

The Gilgit region has a sizeable Shia population.The injured were taken to a hospital in Chilas town. Most of them were in a serious condition, officials said.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack. Kohistan district borders the Swat Valley, which had a strong Taliban presence till 2009, when the army launched an operation to flush out the militants.