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8 Shiite Muslims Killed in Pakistan    10/23 06:34

   QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) -- Four gunmen attacked a minibus carrying Shiite 
Muslims in southwestern Pakistan on Thursday, killing eight of them, police 
said.

   The Shiites from the minority Hazara community were targeted outside a 
vegetable market on the outskirts of Quetta city, operations police chief 
Aitzaz Goraya said.

   The four gunmen riding two motorcycles killed six men in the minibus and 
chased another two down before shooting them dead, he said. Another two people 
were wounded.

   No one has claimed responsibility, and the officer said it was not clear who 
carried out the attack.

   Suspicion is likely to fall on Sunni extremists, who have often targeted 
Shiites in the past. Previous attacks have been claimed by the Sunni militant 
groups Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Pakistani Taliban.

   The Pakistani Taliban have been on the run since the launch of a Pakistani 
military offensive in their last remaining safe havens in North Waziristan, a 
tribal region near Afghan border.

   The local Taliban have been waging a war against the state in a bid to 
topple the government and impose their harsh brand of Islamic law, and have 
killed thousands of Pakistanis over the last decade.

   Quetta city is the capital of Baluchistan province, which is also home to 
Baluchi separatist and nationalist groups. The nationalists have been fighting 
for autonomy and a greater share of revenues from the region's natural 
resources.

   A suicide bombing on Oct, 4 killed five members of the Hazara Shiite 
community in the city. Members of the minority community based in the southwest 
stand out because of their distinct facial features.

   Goraya and another official, Shahzada Farhat, said the Hazara are often 
given police escorts for security but that those who were targeted were 
unaccompanied because they had not informed police in advance of their 
movements.

   Pakistani television ran live footage of the scene showing police removing 
bodies and helping wounded people as family members of the deceased cried and 
wailed.

   Hundreds of Hazara later blocked a main road in the city to protest the 
killings.

   Within hours, said the official, Farhat, a bomb rigged to a motorcycle 
exploded near an army patrol about two kilometers (1.4 miles) away from the 
shooting site, killing two civilians and wounding 10 more, including two 
paramilitary soldiers.


(KA)


 
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