43 dead, eight injured in bus attack on Karachi's Ismaili community

Gun men opened fire on bus belonging to the Ismaili community


PHOTO: AFP

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.



Candle light vigil in Karachi

Young activists from civil society group “We The People-Pakistani” arranged a candle-light vigil to show solidarity with the Ismaili community at Numaish chowrangi on Wednesday evening.

“We are here to show our solidarity with our Ismaili brothers and sisters” said Mohammad Fahad, a Sunni Muslim who works as a cable/internet operator.



Candles lit near Numaish Chowrangi. PHOTO: Mohammad Danish

“I am a sunni and we live in this neighbourhood with our ismaili friends in harmony,” added Mohammad Danish, a student.

When The Express Tribune asked whether they were scared to hold a vigil in such a controversial neighbourhood, Danish said,“Dar dar ke yeh haal ho gaya hay (we have come to this point because of being scared)”.

“People were encouraged after seeing us light the candles, and they came to join us”, said Ali Sinan.

Numaish is home to Muhajirs, Sunnis, Christians, Ismailis, Bohras and Khoja Shia community.



A boy lights a candle at a vigil for victims of Safoora Chowrangi attack. PHOTO: ONLINE



EU condemns Wednesday attack

The European Union expressed its condolences to the families and friends of the victims of Wednesday attack.

“The deadly attack on a bus in Karachi today that has killed at least 43 people and wounded more civilians is a further instance of the scourge of sectarian violence. The Pakistani government must do its utmost to tackle sectarian violence and bring to justice the perpetrators of these violent and criminal acts. There must also be no impunity for these crimes. The rights of all citizens need to be protected, regardless of religion or belief.”



UN Sec Gen condemns attack on Ismaili community

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon condemned Wednesday’s terrorist attack on the passenger bus carrying members of the Ismail community.

The secretary general called on the Pakistani government to take all necessary measures to bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice.

Taking notice of the recent attacks on minorities in the country, Ban urged Pakistan to take measures to protect religious minorities in the country.

Pointing to how Pakistan was a responsible member of the international community, it must fulfill its obligations towards protecting its citizens, including all minorities.

Extending his condolences to the families of the victims and to the government and people of Pakistan, Ban wished speedy recovery to those injured in the attack.



High level security meeting

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is chairing a high level meeting at Governor House in Karachi to assess the security situation following the grisly attack on Ismaili community earlier in the day, Radio Pakistan reported.

Read more here.



Imran Khan condemns attack

While condemning the brutal attack, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan said: “The ones who’ve been attacked are the most peaceful people of Pakistan.”

He said it is the government’s responsibility to find the attackers and bring them to the book, adding that terrorists should be caught no matter where they are.



Army chief telephones Aga Khan

Army chief General Raheel Sharif telephoned Prince Karim Aga Khan and expressed his heartfelt condolences on the brutal attack, a statement released by the ISPR said.

"Our hearts go out to the bereaved families," the army chief told Aga Khan.

"No efforts will be spared to apprehend and punish perpetrators of this terrorist act. Their abettors and backers will not be spared," he added.



Exams postponed

Express News reports that Intermediate exams have been postponed to May 21 in wake of the attack.



No decision taken on IG Sindh’s transfer

Refuting media reports regarding the removal of IG Sindh Ghulam Hyder Jamali from his post, Sindh chief minister’s spokesperson in a statement said that no decision has been taken in this regard.  “No decision has been made to transfer the IG police. He has done tremendous job in controlling the crime and terrorism in Karachi, therefore he will continue as police chief,” read the statement.

Earlier, it was reported in the media that chief minister had removed IG Sindh from his post following the attack on Ismaili community bus and later restored him.



Security beefed up at AKUH

As the chief minister arrived at the hospital, security was beefed up and army personnel were seen securing the area.


PHOTO: RAFIQ MASSAN/HALAAT UPDATES


PHOTO: RAFIQ MASSAN/HALAAT UPDATES



Chief minister arrives in Karachi

Chief minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah has arrived at Aga Khan University Hospital. Security forces have cordoned off the area where the injured have been admitted.



"A shameful and cowardly attack"

Former president and Co-Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party, Asif Ali Zardari also condemned the attack in Karachi, terming it a shameful and cowardly attack on one of the most peaceful communities in the country.

He said the Sindh government would provide every assistance to the victims' families and bring the attackers to justice.



"Heart wrenching and saddening"

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan strongly condemns the attack and expressed deep sorrow and grief over the loss of innocent lives.

"It is heart wrenching and saddening to know innocent civilians have been killed in Karachi", he said in a statement adding that, "I am stunned at the attack in Karachi on citizens belonging to the most peaceful community."



CM Sindh strongly condemns attack

Addressing the media, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah confirms the suspension of SHO and DSP of the area.

"This is an unprecedented incident and we will find those responsible," he says.

He adds that "The pamphlet shows that terrorists have carried out the attack and they will not be left at any costs."

An inquiry into the incident is under way and he has sought a report within a week



Scuffle outside Memon Hospital Institute 

A scuffle broke out outside the Memon Hospital Institute where media personnel were reportedly attacked.

Rangers have been deployed outside the medical institute.



Army chief likely to visit AKU

General Raheel Sharif along with corps commander and DG Rangers will reportedly visit injured persons at Aga Khan University Hospital.

Security has been beefed up by the Army and Rangers at the hospital premises, our correspondent Faraz Khan reports.


PHOTO: AFP




Aga Khan shocked and saddened by attack

In a press release by leader of the Ismaili community, Aga Khan, he expresses shock and sadness in wake of today's attack.

"This attack represents a senseless act of violence against a peaceful community. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed and wounded in the attack," the statement says.

The Aga Khan noted that the Ismailis are a peaceful global community living in harmony with other religious and ethnic groups in many countries across the world, including in the Muslim world.

The Ismaili leaders in Pakistan are currently involved in an emergency operation trying to help the survivors of the attack, the statement further stated.



PM to travel to Karachi

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is said to travel to Karachi this evening where he will be visiting the victims of the attack.


PHOTO: INP




Sharjeel Memon condemns attack

Addressing the media, Information Minister Sharjeel Memon condemned the attack and said that no matter how many people condemn the incident, it is not enough.

"It wasn’t a particular community that was attacked, but the whole nation," he said.

Furthermore, he said that the intelligence agencies and the army will "detect this case" and punish the terrorists responsible for the attack.

"The army will enter their homes and bring them out," he concluded.


PHOTO: AFP




CM announces Rs0.5m for victims’ families

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has announced compensation for victims of the bus attack in Karachi.


PHOTO: FARAZ KHAN/EXPRESS


Addressing the media, Shah announced Rs0.5 million to the family of each deceased person and Rs0.2 million to each injured victim.


PHOTO: FARAZ KHAN/EXPRESS




At the Memon Hospital Institute 

At Karachi's Memon Hospital Institute, where most of the wounded were rushed, crying relatives formed a human chain outside the main building to keep onlookers away.

A sobbing middle-aged man told AFP, "I have come to collect the body of my young son. He was a student preparing for his first year exams at college."

The bus itself, which had been driven after the attack to the hospital, was blood-drenched and riddled with bullet holes.



COAS arrives in Karachi

General Raheel Sharif has arrived in Karachi.



A security official later shows AFP a copy of a torn and blood-stained pamphlet claiming responsibility on behalf of the Islamic State group -- the second time in as many months that such material has been discovered at the scene of an attack in Karachi.

Police handed over similar leaflets to reporters after the killing of US national Debra Lobo, a member of faculty at the city's Jinnah Medical and Dental College, on April 16, but analysts remain doubtful over their authenticity.


PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS


The leaflets, seen by AFP, are plain printed text documents with no IS emblems or insignia and there has been no confirmation from the group's leadership in the Middle East that it has carried out any attacks inside Pakistan.



COAS en route to Karachi

According to the ISPR, General Raheel Sharif is on his way to review the situation after today's bus attack on the Ismaili community.



TTP splinter group claims responsibility

A splinter group of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistani, Jundullah,
claim responsibility for the attack in Karachi.

In Police custody

Following the incident, Police have been conducting search operations in which 15 persons have been taken into custody, according to Express News.


PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS


It has not yet been revealed whether they have any connection with the bus attack.

Eye witnesses say that firing continued for at least 20 minutes.



Assailants disguised as security personnel

According to Express News, the assailants were disguised as security officials who may have stopped the bus and opened fire.



IG Sindh addresses media





Day of mourning

Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain announces a day of mourning on May 14.


PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS




Assistant bus driver arrives at hospital

The assistant bus driver of the bus, despite being shot in the shoulder, was rescued by people who rushed to the site of the attack and driven to Memon Foundation Hospital.

The assistant driver, Sultan Ali, was shot in his shoulder after the main driver, Rahim Ali, was shot and died on the spot.


PHOTO: AFP




COAS postpones Sri Lanka visit

As per a tweet shared by DG ISPR Asim Bajwa, General Raheel Sharif's pre-scheduled official visit to Sri Lanka has been cancelled.





"Bus attacked from all sides"

Sources confirm that the bus was attacked from all sides and many are critically injured.



Women and children

Many women and children were aboard the bus during the attack. According to Express News, at least 16 women were killed in the attack.


PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS



Ismaili community under attack

Our correspondent Faraz Khan confirms that the bus belonged to members of the Ismaili community.

Minorities have often come under attack in the city.

"The bus had a capacity of 52 passengers but it was overloaded and dozens of people were boarding it. Most of them were from (the) Ismaili community," a policeman at the scene told AFP.



Passengers also attacked inside bus

Eyewitnesses said that the assailants also got on board the bus and attacked passengers inside the bus.

The bus belonged to Al Azhar Colony Garden, block of residential apartments in Federal B area, our correspondent Faraz Khan reports.

The bus, travelling on its regular route was reportedly brought to a stop by gunmen, after which they opened fire.

According to forensic experts, gunmen intended to kill all passengers on board the bus.


PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS


"The gunmen stopped the bus and first fired at it from outside," a policeman told AFP.

"Then they entered inside the bus and open fire indiscriminately. After that they checked to see if anyone was left uninjured," he added.



Rescue efforts

As news of the incident was received, rescue teams, police and Rangers arrived at the scene and cordoned off the area. Rescue efforts were underway to shift the injured to a local hospital.

Many are also said to be in critical condition.



Habib Shaukat, Noman Ali, Zeeshan Roshan Badruddin, Pinky Anis, Zohra Amir were among those shifted to Aga Khan University Hospital for medical assistance, our correspondent Munira Abbas reports.



No group has taken responsibility

Further, reports revealed that leaflets containing militant content were found at the scene.

Although no one has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, Taliban splinter groups have bombed several mosques
belonging to religious minorities this year.


PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS



Bullets and Kalashnikovs

Over 150 empty bullet shells of pistols and Kalashnikovs were found at the scene.



Interior Ministry takes notice

Following the incident, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has sought a report from the IG Sindh Police, according to Radio Pakistan.



SHO, DSP suspended

Further, upon the orders of Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, area's SHO and DSP have been suspended.


PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS


Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemns attack

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the terrorist attack in Karachi and expressed grief and sorrow over the loss of innocent lives.

Twitter reacts

Many prominent figures took to Twitter to share their condolences with the families of the deceased.


















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COMMENTS (111)

Pramod | 5 years ago | Reply | Recommend @Saad: why americans this gorup is operating in Pakisatn from early 90s . Only name has changed
jylo | 5 years ago | Reply | Recommend previous threat was a warning. where was our volunteer security?
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