Asia

Nine killed in gun attack in Pakistani city of Quetta

  • 9 August 2013
  • From the section Asia

At least nine people were killed when gunmen opened fire outside a mosque in the second attack in Quetta in south-west Pakistan in as many days.

About 20 others were wounded in the attack, which came as worshippers left the Sunni Muslim mosque after sunrise prayers for the Eid al-Fitr festival.

Bullets hit the car of Ali Madad Jatak, a former Pakistan People's Party provincial minister, but he was unhurt.

On Thursday dozens of people died in a suicide bomb blast in Quetta.

In the latest attack, four unidentified men opened fire on the former minister as prayers came to a close.

Image caption Bystanders helped carry the wounded into hospital
Image caption Children were among those wounded in the shooting
Image caption Witnesses said the gunmen lay in wait outside for the worshippers
Image caption The shooting took place as worshippers were leaving the mosque after prayers
Image caption No group has said it carried out the shooting, which took place near Quetta's eastern bypass.

"They fled after killing innocent people," Mr Jatak said. "I was the target. They could have fired at me. They killed innocent worshippers belonging to different communities. This is against humanity. It is brutality on the level of animals."

Mr Jatak held a ministerial role in the Balochistan provincial government, as a representative of the PPP, which headed the last national coalition government.

"When people came outside on the stairs, the terrorists were already present there," Mohammad Adnan, a witness, told the Associated Press news agency. "They started shooting and targeting many people. Two children were among the martyrs and around 20 people were injured."

No group has said it carried out the shooting, which took place near Quetta's eastern bypass.

Four people died at the scene while the others succumbed to their injuries in hospital, a senior local police official, Bashir Ahmad Brohi told the AFP news agency.

"The government should take strong action on the Quetta incident," said Hafiz Muneeb, one worshipper at a mosque in the capital, Islamabad. "We are depressed that such a tragic incident happened."

Another worshipper, Abdul Rehman, said Eid al-Fitr was a day of love, unity and brotherhood. "People should unite to spread love and remove hatred. We should aim for peace and stability in the country," he said.

Quetta has seen a recent surge in sectarian violence, mostly targeting the Shia Muslim minority.

The city is the provincial capital of Balochistan, which is plagued not just by the Taliban's insurgency, but also by sectarian in-fighting between Sunnis and Shias and a rebellion by Baloch separatists.

On Tuesday militants from the separatist Baloch Liberation Army shot dead 13 bus passengers 70 kilometres (44 miles) south-east of Quetta.

The government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came to power in June after promising to negotiate with militant groups.

Officials said they were preparing a comprehensive security strategy, bringing together delegates from all political parties, in an effort to combat violent extremism.

However the strategy has not yet been released, and no all-party meeting has yet been scheduled.

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