PESHAWAR – At least 25 members of the Shia community were killed when armed men intercepted four buses en route to Gilgit, lined the people up and opened indiscriminate fire on the passengers in Kohistan district on Thursday.
The incident occurred near Babusar Top of Kohistan. All four buses were on way to Gilgit and other northern towns from the federal capital. Officials in Kohistan said the terrorists forced four passenger buses to a halt in the Thanda Pani area of Babusar Top on Thursday and dislodged the passengers off the vehicles. Twenty-five of the passengers, after being identified as Shias, were forced into a line and shot dead in cold blood. The exact identity of those killed could not be ascertained, but they were said to hail from various areas of Gilgit-Baltistan. The victims were on way home for Eid holidays.
Officials in Dasu, headquarters of Kohistan, said the attackers were donning army uniforms.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has claimed responsibility for the cold-blooded killings. Locals said all four buses were owned by a single private transport company. They said due to frequent ambushing of passenger buses on the Silk Route, transporters had chosen to travel along the Naran-Kaghan Road, but the terrorists, unfortunately, found a way to attack the buses on the alternate route as well. Just like in Balochistan, violent acts against Shias in the Northern Areas are also in progress since the last several years.
“Ten to 12 people wearing army uniforms stopped the buses and forced some people off the vehicles,” said Khalid Omarzai, administration chief in Mansehra. “After checking their papers, they opened fire and at least 20 people are reported to have been killed. This is initial information and the final toll may go up. They are all Shias,” he said. Earlier on February 28, gunmen in military fatigues hauled 18 Shia men off buses traveling from Rawalpindi to Gilgit in the northern district of Kohistan, shooting them dead in cold blood. On April 3, a Sunni Muslim mob dragged nine Shia Muslims from buses and also shot them dead in the town of Chilas, about 60 miles south of Gilgit.-Pakistantoday