KARACHI: Gunmen on motorcycles boarded a bus and opened fire on commuters belonging to the Ismaili community in Karachi on Wednesday, killing at least 43, police said, in the latest attack directed against religious minorities this year.
The pink bus was pockmarked with bullet holes and blood saturated the seats and dripped out of the doors on to the concrete.
Police Superintendent Najib Khan told Reuters there were six gunmen and that all the passengers were Ismailis.
Militant group Jundullah, which has attacked minorities before, claimed responsibility. The group has links with the Taliban and pledged allegiance to Islamic State in November.
At least 43 people had been killed and 13 wounded, provincial police chief Ghulam Haider Jamali told media.
Outside the hospital where the wounded were taken, and where the bus was parked, scores of grim-faced young men formed a human chain to block everyone but families and doctors.
Uzma Alkarim, a member of the Ismaili community, said the bus took commuters to work every day. The Ismailis had faced threats before, she said.
“Around six months ago, our community elders had alerted us to be careful because of security threats but things had calmed down recently,” she said.
English leaflets left in the bus were headlined “Advent of the Islamic State!” and used derogatory Arabic words, blaming the community for “barbaric atrocities … in the Levant, Iraq and Yemen”.
Following the attack, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack and Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif telephoned Prince Karim Aga Khan and expressed his condolences.
“No efforts will be spared to apprehend and punish perpetrators of this terrorist act. Their abettors and backers will not be spared,” he said.