MOSCOW, October 23 (RIA Novosti) – A group of unidentified armed men have attacked a bus carrying Shiite Muslims, killing eight onboard, in the city of Quetta in southwestern Pakistan, Al Arabiya News reports.
"At least nine Hazara Shiites were sitting in a minibus after buying vegetables when two gunmen opened fire on them with automatic weapons, killing eight of them and wounding another one," a local police representative said in a statement, cited by the news source.
The gunmen are assumed to belong to one of the local Sunni radical groups, who have become increasingly brazen in recent years, targeting, killing and kidnapping. The Hazara people, who are living in Baluchistan province and practice Shia Islam, are one of the most vulnerable and affected ethnic groups, as their members are easily distinguished by their Central Asian characteristics. According to various sources, about 3000 Hazara people have been killed and 5000 more have been injured in the city of Quetta, Baluchistan, over the last few years.
According to Religion News, religious killings and violent clashes frequently take place during the Islamic month of Muharram, considered especially sacred for Shia Muslims. Shias make up only 13% of Pakistan’s population, while Sunnis represent the religious majority of the country.
“I sleep in fear of being burnt alive as the image of carnage revisits me every night,” said a Pakistani citizen, referring to the clashes of November 2013 in the city of Rawalpindi.
In June 2014, 24 Hazara pilgrims met a gruesome end when their bus was attacked by suicide bombers. In the last year, more than 200 people were killed as result of bombings in the city of Quetta.
Frequent violent attacks and assaults have forced many people to leave their homes and relocate to other cities. Over the last decade about 300,000 residents have fled Baluchistan, a center for religious violence.
“The figure of 300,000 is a considerable figure. The actual number of migrants may be higher but we could only authenticate this,” said a representative of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, cited by the Express Tribune.
The migration flows from Baluchistan are continuing. People are fleeing to other regions or seeking refuge overseas.