19 pulled off buses, shot dead in sectarian hit

Published: August 17, 2012
A man comforts a mourner, following the attack on a passenger van in Mansehra. PHOTO: AFP

A man comforts a mourner, following the attack on a passenger van in Mansehra. PHOTO: AFP


Over a dozen gunmen forced 19 Shia passengers off four buses and shot them at point blank range in the Mansehra district on Thursday, breaking the fragile peace in the region and marking the third such incident in six months.

The ambush took place as the buses, en route to Rawalpindi from Gilgit with over 100 passengers onboard, were stopped at dawn in the Lulusar area, which lies below mountains, the director of police in Gilgit, Ali Sher said.

The passengers, over 20 of whom were Shia Muslims, made a short pit stop at a local hotel in Kaghan during Sehri before resuming their journey. However, some 22 kilometres from Naran, the buses reached a deserted area locally known as ‘Thanda Pani’ near Babusar Top, where the road had been blocked with heavy stones and wooden logs.

“No sooner than the driver applied the brakes, over a dozen armed men in military uniform appeared from the bushes and forced their entry into the buses,” a police officer quoted one of the van drivers as saying, adding that assailants appeared to be Pushto and Kohistani-speaking.

Officials said the gunmen wearing army uniforms checked the identification cards of the passengers, lined up the Shia passengers on the roadside, tied their hands and then opened fire on them. The assailants left moments later after ensuring that none of the victims were still alive.

Later on in the day, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Khyber Agency chapter spokesman Muhammed Afridi claimed responsibility for the grisly attack, saying the Pakistani Taliban would continue to target the Shia community in the future.

According to Kaghan police, a driver had informed them about the incident around 10am, springing senior officials into action. The injured were taken to different hospitals of Mansehra district.

“We were told that there were over 40 attackers and they came from Neelam Valley and went back on the same road they came from, on foot,” said Hazara commissioner Khalid Khan Umerzai.

“All the victims died on the spot,” the commissioner said, adding that 18 of the bodies had been identified while one was beyond recognition.

Sectarian violence in G-B has seen a dramatic rise in the past year. On February 28, gunmen in military fatigues hauled 18 Shia Muslim men off buses travelling from Rawalpindi to Gilgit in the northern district of Kohistan, shooting them dead in cold blood.

On April 3, a mob dragged nine Shia Muslims from buses and also shot them dead in the town of Chilas, about 97 km south of Gilgit.

G-B closes key road; security on high alert

The efforts to forge sectarian harmony in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) received a serious blow on Thursday after the deadly ambush of passenger vans in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

“We have placed security on high alert as a precautionary measure, even though the incident hasn’t taken place inside G-B’s limits,” DIG Ali Sher told The Express Tribune.

Fear and panic gripped the region as markets were shuttered soon after the news spread.

Deputy Commissioner Astore Momin Jan told The Express Tribune that they were in the middle of collecting details. “This is really unfortunate but we expect our clergy to cooperate with the government in maintaining peace,” he said.

A high-level meeting chaired by GB Chief Minister Mehdi Shah was convened in Gilgit to discuss the security plan crafted two weeks ago after a roadside remote control device ripped through a passenger van.

“One of the decisions taken in the meeting was to suspend traffic temporarily on the Babusar road between Gilgit and Rawalpindi,” said an official who attended the meeting.

The chief minister held another separate but crucial meeting with the members of the Masjid Board to discuss the possible fallout of the incident.

Earlier this week, four religious parties in GB – Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM), Jamat-e-Islami (JI) and Shia Ulema Council (SUC) – had joined hands to promote sectarian harmony in the region. (With additional reporting by Shabbir Mir from Gilgit)

(Read: Another sectarian massacre)

Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2012. 

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Reader Comments (56)

  • Ali
    Aug 17, 2012 - 3:23AM

    Really sad that these Incidents are happening in the name of Islam. what the lesson we are giving to the world about Our religion and Pakistan.


  • Muhammad Hassan
    Aug 17, 2012 - 3:26AM

    This isn’t our war, they are our brothers blah blah blah…


  • Awans
    Aug 17, 2012 - 3:29AM

    The most disgusting thing is that so far two parties from Punjab One is the Quade Azam hijacked Right Wing Hypocritical PMLN and the second is confused right-left-centre wing PTI never come up with condemnation of any sort. PMLN is in full support of Sipah e Sahabe and Lashkar and their response will be minimal otherwise their vote bank of urban class Punjabis who love to Rave but at the same time love TTP and all forms of extremism against minorities will be disturbed.

    Their official pages so far as usual are silent on this issue.

  • Pak1
    Aug 17, 2012 - 3:30AM

    In Pakistan,
    Chief Justice will not take soumoto notice against this shia genocide!
    Government will not move an inch against this shia genocide!
    Army and other security agencies will not perform their duty against this shia genocide!
    Imran Khan will not announce a long march against this shia genocide!
    Mullahs will not even condemn nor try to stop this shia genocide!
    Diffa-e-Pakistan council will condem the drones to save Afghanis but dont care of shia genocide!
    hummmm So what choice the shias have who are kafir in eyes of 41% of mussulmanan-e-Pakistan?

    Let’s blame this shia genocide on Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
    If he was in the bus, it would be no shia genocide (I doubt it)
    or if he did not get us Pakistan, Hindus would save shias from the genocide.


  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Aug 17, 2012 - 3:36AM

    There were over hundered passengers and just ten killers. When killers were identifying Shias, why didn’t all passengers resisted. I am sorry to say, these passengers are from an area, which is famous for its bravery and courage and but they proved it wrong. They died like lambs. Its a shame that killers can identify who is Shia and who is Sunni but passengers could not smell something wrong.


  • FJ
    Aug 17, 2012 - 3:49AM

    This will keep happening and no one can do anything unless until our army generals and ISI stop playing double game and play their part honestly by killing these rats wherever they find them! They know how to kill them all…Death to terrorists! Peace for all


  • Khan Gul
    Aug 17, 2012 - 4:00AM

    Each bus must hand a pistol and 5 bullets to every passenger on board. 50 people on a bus with 250 bullets means nobody will dare stop a bus. When the journey finishes, passengers should hand back the guns and ammo.


  • sabi
    Aug 17, 2012 - 4:39AM

    This will be followed by some statements from authorities,some condolences,reitreating government’s deteminations to protect minorities.blah blah.This is the destiny of minorities in pakistan.But! let the majority must know that if it doesn’t awake now and crush this menace, created at the name of God ,the all mercifull , their turn will come and sure it will come and there will be nothing to avoid it.


  • Blood thirsty
    Aug 17, 2012 - 4:48AM

    When you will preach hatred in religious sermons, such things become norm.


  • Cautious
    Aug 17, 2012 - 4:55AM

    So much for the nonsense that the fight against terrorism is an American war – time for those who use that mantra to wake up.


  • Aug 17, 2012 - 5:33AM

    Yesterday, was a double whammy.
    Attacking a military air base, and committing another massacre of Shia Muslims.
    Unless there’s a serious effort to root out Wahhabi/Salafi/Deoband/Sunni Islamist extremist militants under names of Taliban, L-e-J, etc, there’ll be more bloodshed and pain.
    There’s an operation to initiate in North Waziristan, which is a good start. However, that alone will not root out the many ideological extremists supporters and sympathizers around the country who’ve been betraying their fellow countrymen.


  • Kumail
    Aug 17, 2012 - 5:42AM

    Absolutely Tragic, seriously how can we celebrate Eid after this incident. Every true Pakistani needs to stand up against the taliban and say enough is enough, we don’t need your un-islamic practises in this country or anywhere humans reside.


  • Ali
    Aug 17, 2012 - 5:48AM

    one thing is clear from this episode of brutal Shia killing; The enemies of Shiite Community and Pakistan Army are the same. These bearded animals claim themselves to be Muslims are on a killing spree of peaceful human beings and no one is speaking out loud against them except the ones who are affected (i.e. Shiite community).
    The so called human rights flag bearers, Muftis, Qaris, Molvis and other political molvis of JI, JUI haven’t condemned this the way it should be condemned.
    I REQUEST Mufti Muneeb, Ashraf Thanvi & Mufti Naeemi to openly declare TALIBAN as Kafirs and Shiites as the brothers of Sunni community.


  • Ali
    Aug 17, 2012 - 5:49AM

    Kudos to ET for publishing articles without bias.


  • Aug 17, 2012 - 6:14AM

    Disgusting… where are the guardians of Islam protecting Muslims?


  • Adnan
    Aug 17, 2012 - 6:37AM

    @Ch. Allah Daad:

    A dozen “armed” men against “unarmed” passengers. i dont think anyone would want to risk their life only to be shot dead saving the poor “selected” ones.


  • saeed
    Aug 17, 2012 - 7:08AM

    Ch Allah dad
    My experience people from this side only pretend to be brave actually they carry gun for show piece . Yes they kill when they sure the guy in front of them is bare handed


  • moonjely sony
    Aug 17, 2012 - 7:25AM

    “you reap what you sow” its a beginning only, end of this will be very painful.The hate culture spread ed by Pakistani people is paying of now.


  • Anti-mullah
    Aug 17, 2012 - 7:51AM

    Shame on Taliban. They think they just earned jannah by killing innocent human beings. I wonder how God will ever forgive this?


  • the truth
    Aug 17, 2012 - 7:58AM

    now all shia should migrate to India


  • Mirza
    Aug 17, 2012 - 8:18AM

    I am sorry to say that this would continue to not just happen but accelerate. In fact the passengers who were spared are also responsible, we are all responsible and the so-called revolutionary leader does not stand up against these atrocities every other day. When Taliban are killed our hearts ache and we get angry and hate their killers but do nothing against the likes of Qadri and these terrorists. We are stones, unmoved because it is not happening to us, it is happening to them. We all hate these smaller sects and minorities but either do not know or hide it. We come up with all kinds of excuses and attack what is happening with Muslims in the West and in Myanmar but not in Pakistan. This is one of the days I am not proud to be a Pakistani.


  • Sid Taji
    Aug 17, 2012 - 8:21AM

    This is the result of romancing with the terrorists for such a long time. It’s time to face them head on. The Parliament needs to pass new anti terrorism laws; speedy trials should be held and punishment should be carried out swiftly. The Chief Justice needs to take a notice. It is unfortunate that heads of major religious organizations are quiet; this is the time to speak against an atrocity. Normally, these guys are jumping and screaming on TV shows when some terrorists are killed in a drone strike.


  • Lord
    Aug 17, 2012 - 8:42AM

    God help those who help them selves .By not showing unified reaction or any reaction Shias of pakistan are not helping there children’s survival in this extremist country. Its time to wake up brothers if you think you will be spared you are living in fool’s paradise.


  • Sane Voice
    Aug 17, 2012 - 8:51AM

    TTP and other fanatics are the worst enemy islam might have ever faced with. they are not only destroying the fabric of this religon and our society………….they are defamming it in front of whole world.

    By all means, this our war…..now we have to decide as nation, as a society, whether we want to fight it and get rid of the enemy once and for all……or whether we just close our eyes and wait that these savages kill everyone except their like ones.


  • Sherghazi
    Aug 17, 2012 - 9:09AM

    Now time to come to decide our future and want to save our generation. So its time to re-think the affiliation with Pakistan.


  • Aug 17, 2012 - 9:13AM

    Don’t the Taliban have an army to fight? let the others kill the Shia’s for you. Already there are many organizations in Pakistan, who’d live to kill a shia.


  • We want peace
    Aug 17, 2012 - 9:14AM

    Popular TV news channel rhyming with “Leo” did not even mention the word “Shia”. They said people were killed. Is mentioning Shia a crime?

    CJP will take suo-moto for Waheeda’s slap, Atiiqa’s alchohal but not
    against this genocide of Shia

    This is what Pakistan has become.

    Thank you Tribune for at least showing to the world that Shias are killed Nazi style in Pakistan.

    Please help us people of the world


  • Praful Shah
    Aug 17, 2012 - 9:29AM

    This is not the way treat another human being, does not matter the religion. What is the difference with us human and animals? I feel for their family.


  • Sulzer
    Aug 17, 2012 - 9:35AM

    I strongly condem this.This is really something Disgusting.


  • GhostRider
    Aug 17, 2012 - 9:38AM

    @Ch. Allah Daad:
    There were 12 gunmen atleast….dont criticise…you would have done the same save this rant for the kids


  • Noor
    Aug 17, 2012 - 9:41AM

    @Awans: grow up baby



  • gul brekhna
    Aug 17, 2012 - 9:42AM

    it is highly disgusting..it is very condemnable..this stuff is based on discriminations that is a conspiracy against Muslims..to create a haterd against Sunni in the hearts of our Shiyya brothers..Hussains,mehdis,razas n abbas plz be careful,u can be attacked bcz of ur names.Well THIS IS PAKISTAN…a cruel fact..Recommend

  • N
    Aug 17, 2012 - 9:48AM

    I am not muslim, but was in Peshawar some time ago. I enjoyed the accompany of my pakistani friends very much. I find them quite intelligent and friendly. However, after I saw many incidents of murders- honor killings, blasphemy- and giving hard time to infidels, and so on- . I start think Islam in negative way. Let’s say I start to believe that Islam may encourage that it is not a crime to kill infidels.

    However, in this case, my question about such incident is “why Muslims keep killing each other?” I really want to know what are the differences between Shia and Suni.


  • ahmer
    Aug 17, 2012 - 9:55AM

    @Ch. Allah Daad:

    Are you on some kind of drugs??? your comments are insensitive, immature and totally ridiculous.


  • T Khan
    Aug 17, 2012 - 10:06AM

    Must be Indians, or Israelis. Definitely with American, British and Timbuktu’s support. Afterall, aid musalman dosrey musalman ko kabhi nahi mar sakta.

    P.S. Another dharna against drones Kaptaan?


  • MK
    Aug 17, 2012 - 10:46AM

    Absolutely disgusting and a gruesome reminder that we are stuck in the dark ages, and with each passing day, we transcend to the age when man’s mental capacity was that of an orangutan.

    Will the government take notice? Will civil society speak up? Will Tehrik e Taliban openly declare itself as a terrorist organisation? Will Sunni religious leaders openly condemn this horrific act? Will we quit labeling ourselves as the heralders of so called Islam?

    Only time will tell. Till then, deepest condolences and prayers for the souls lost.


  • Waqar Mehmood
    Aug 17, 2012 - 10:57AM

    Government will never arrest killers, even it never try to do so. Last time when innocent people were killed in Kohistan and Chilas, law enforcement agencies failed to arrest the culprits. GB government is failed, CM should resign.


  • Ali Hussain
    Aug 17, 2012 - 11:14AM

    At same day three incident occurs at different times , Kamra, Thandpani bausar, and Queta. all are claimed by TTP, and all are against Pakistan, all are in favor of American and its allies, we need to to know why Pakistan’s enemies target in a name shia,and sunnis, who free them our i.e courts are in favour of Pakistan or in favour of TTP


  • Abis
    Aug 17, 2012 - 11:32AM

    And our politicians are planing to visit Waziristan for the solidarity of killers and pleading permission from non-residence “Ameer ul momineen Mullah Umar” to enter in part of pakistan. and rest are chanting slogans for Rohingya.

    While the Rohingya of Gilgats are being slaughtered inside their home.


  • Giri
    Aug 17, 2012 - 11:37AM

    Its time for shias to seek asylum in India or Iran..


  • Aug 17, 2012 - 11:49AM

    why should Pakistani people bother about this

    they are worried about muslims in Burma


  • Hussain Naqvi
    Aug 17, 2012 - 11:52AM

    This is the most ugliest incident due to sheer negligence of the poor security managers who could not saved the precious lives.The Chief Minister GB quit off and let some courgeous individual to administer the GB affairs.This height of things that people travelling from Rawalpindi in a caravan could not be take into care by the security personal deployed in the valley of Kaghan despite that extra ordinary measures of security are taken during the season to protect the people who come here to enjoy their summer vacations.


  • mr. righty rightist
    Aug 17, 2012 - 11:59AM

    @Ali who writes “I REQUEST Mufti Muneeb, Ashraf Thanvi & Mufti Naeemi to openly declare TALIBAN as Kafirs and Shiites as the brothers of Sunni community.”

    Interesting. But which Taliban?

    The good Taliban or the bad taliban? Afghan Taliban or the Pakistan taliban?

    What about Haqqani network? What about Hafeez Saeed?


  • mr. righty rightist
    Aug 17, 2012 - 12:01PM


    Are you mad, my dear sir?

    We don’t want any Pakistani muslims in India. I don’t mind Pakistani christians, Sikhs and Hindus coming to India.


  • Zeshan
    Aug 17, 2012 - 1:31PM

    U idiot, u really think hindus would save shia muslims? Are u saying there are no shia muslims in india? That were victim of the gujrat riots? Did hidus protect them then? Also from where is it the fault of qaid e azam? this is purely the fault of a bunch of uneducated imbicile brainwashed junglees. and the fact that regardless of what belief they may have these human beings were slaughtered and people who claim to be real muslims like this taliban group are killing and others are watching.


  • Aries 95
    Aug 17, 2012 - 1:57PM

    This is in no way acceptable. I mean how on earth can these people call themselves MUSLIMS?
    The government cannot think of any steps to stop such kind of tragic incidents.This is not the first time that the shias have been attacked.If the government really wanted to do something,they could have done it after the first attack.
    The army uniform of our country is being used by the terrorist..this is simply a way of letting down the Pakistani army in front of the whole world.
    I hope the government pays some attention towards the seriousness of the situation so that such tragic accidents can be prevented in the future.


  • DOCH
    Aug 17, 2012 - 3:17PM

    Why has no Mullah ever stood up to declare that this killing of fellow muslims is HARAM? Is this Islam? Why doesn’t the whole Pakistani nation stand up once for all and get rid of all the extremists within?


  • nil
    Aug 17, 2012 - 3:27PM

    I wonder how many of them come on road against the incident like they did for muslim killed in myanmar in ethnic violence.


  • Hussain
    Aug 17, 2012 - 3:39PM

    Being a Shia myself i know its becoming a crime to be a shia in Pakistan …. for all those commenting / hoping for CJ suo-moto please don’t, courts are just too busy solving political issues n discussing prices of samosa … n for all those hoping (real) condemnation from right wing (a.k.a. Difa-e-Pakistan n its allied political parties) please give-up your hope, all you are gonna hear from them is “We condemn this act BUT we must all also condemn acts of terror on sunni happening there there n there n y do shia do this and do that which incite hatred”

    P.S. due to past experience i m pretty much sure my comment is going to get slashed by ET … but i can’t help u guyz with moderate words against shia genocide


  • miken
    Aug 17, 2012 - 5:48PM

    shia muslims r safe in india after iran in world..india is safe for shia..


  • Aug 17, 2012 - 5:56PM

    At the end of holy fasting month of Ramadan,
    world people have received a message conveyed
    by TTP about Islam.Pakistan and Taliban itself. by
    killing more 20 innocent passengers of buses.


  • sabi
    Aug 17, 2012 - 6:02PM

    Oh pakistani ruling elites! show no mercy for killers and their sympathysers before God shows no mercy for your’s silence against tyrants.


  • skardu Baltistan
    Aug 18, 2012 - 12:11PM

    We people of Gilgit Bltistan are really feared from all abut this terrorism and extremism from the Taliban. if Govt of Pakistan and Army can not stop these brutal killing then we will request them to arrange a migration through UN for Shia Peoples of gilgit Baltistan. we have to be ready for this migration.

    we cant survival in this country in these helpless and suppress life and we really fearing to travel from KKH . our security and safty is the responsible of Govt of Pakistan and Army and we feel that these two are completely fail to procet we shia people of gilgit Baltiatan.

    we request all libral and moderate people of pakistan to help we helpless and suppress people of Gilgit-Baltiatn.


  • Hussain Naqvi
    Aug 21, 2012 - 7:23PM

    The one who suggested in his lengthy statement to migrate from this lawless and dangerious country is not the solution of the killings of the innocents. The biased Government has miserably failed to protect its innocent Shia community for which Champion of Justice should take a serious notice if he believes in peace and harmony in the country. He is witnessing with his naked eyes all such ugly killing incidents but does not move an inch to console the victims.He should have taken serious notice long before but he is extremly busy to destablise the democratic set up to destabalise the country. Army is also biased on this issue and busy in useless deployment on border lying with neighbouring terrorist country. ISI is bound to follow the precedents of their predecessors and have concern with the people of the country. They are engaged with other assignments given to them by the foreigners. In this ugly incident it is suggested to bring all the passengers of the buses with their drivers to task and they will definately bring some useful information which will help the investigating officials to some result and will be able to catch hold of the culprits definately residing in and around the the venue of the incident. The Government if it is there then must provide security to the innocent people across the country.


  • thornberry
    Aug 22, 2012 - 1:42PM

    what has not been mentioned is the 2 hour ordeal in which each one of the passengers went through an identification process, via nadra database, via physical inspection, the minute by minute horror all the passengers faced awaiting a certain death…. and no they were not killed on da spot,they were tied up one by one, and stoned to death, a couple may have gotten a merciful death not all were dat privileged….shameful for me to be a muslim thank god im not their version of muslim…..religion is gonna be the death of us….


  • Aug 29, 2012 - 10:18AM

    Yes, Creation of pakistan was a mistake, but hindus thank god for this , criminals have gone/
    / the leaders of hindus were so clever, see now they live happily


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