The killing of more than 40 Ismaili Shi’a Muslims in Karachi marks a new low in a campaign of sectarian violence that has left Pakistan’s religious minorities fearing for their lives while extremists in the country operate with impunity, said Amnesty International.
The attack on a bus carrying the Ismailis, claimed by the Jundullah group, highlights both the ever-present threat of violence and the authorities’ persistent failure to prosecute the perpetrators and to protect religious minorities.
“We deplore this unprovoked assault and the tragic loss of life,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Asia Pacific.
“While attacks on the Ismailis are rare, attacks by the Jundullah group are not. The extremists have claimed responsibility for many killings, including a 2013 attack on a church in Peshawar in which more than 80 Christians were killed. None of these attacks have been investigated or prosecuted in a thorough and transparent manner.”
“While today’s attack is alarming, it is the product of an equally alarming climate of impunity. We urge the Pakistani authorities to bring to justice the perpetrators of violence committed in the name of religion in this and many previous cases, in fair trials and without recourse to the death penalty. Official complacency will only encourage further attacks.”
At least 43 people were killed in the gun attack on the bus carrying Ismaili Shi’a Muslims. Police say a further 13 people were injured.
The attackers fired indiscriminately on the bus passengers before escaping. Pakistan’s government has promised an investigation into the killings.
Jundullah, an offshoot of the Pakistani Taliban, recently declared its allegiance to the armed group calling itself Islamic State. The group has reportedly threatened further attacks on religious minorities.