Gunmen on motorcycles boarded a bus and opened fire on commuters in Karachi on Wednesday, killing at least 43, police said. Militants affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack.
Police Superintendent Najib Khan told Reuters there were six gunmen and that all the passengers were Ismailis, a minority Shia Muslim sect. Pakistan is mostly Sunni.
The pink bus was pockmarked with bullet holes and blood saturated the seats and dripped out of the doors on to the concrete.
“As the gunmen climbed on to the bus, one of them shouted, ‘Kill them all!’ Then they started firing at everyone they saw,” a wounded woman told a television channel by phone.
Militant group Jundullah, which has attacked Muslim minorities before, claimed responsibility. The group has links with the Pakistani Taliban and pledged allegiance to IS in November.
“These killed people were Ismaili and we consider them kafir (non-Muslim). We had four attackers. In the coming days we will attack Ismailis, Shias and Christians,” spokesman Ahmed Marwat said.
Later, a Twitter account from militants identifying themselves as IS claimed responsibility. It was not possible to verify their claims and they did not provide details of the attack.
“Thanks to God 43 apostates were killed and close to 30 others were wounded in an attack by the soldiers of Islamic State on a bus carrying people of the Shia Ismaili sect … in Karachi,” said a statement distributed on Twitter by a group calling itself Khorasan Province Islamic State.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said he was saddened by the attack. “This is a very patriotic and peaceful people who have always worked for the wellbeing of Pakistan,” he said. “This is an attempt to spread divisions in the country.”
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.