At least 22 Shias were target-killed in the Mansehra area of Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa on Thursday in an attack with all the hallmarks of a sectarian strike. The passengers were identified as Shias from three buses and shot down in broad daylight while they were travelling to Gilgit from Rawalpindi.

Many of those killed in the attack were heading home for the Eid holidays when unidentified gunmen dressed in battle fatigues flagged the buses down. According to security officials, they asked passengers to show their identity cards on the basis of which they singled out the Shias before killing them.

This is the third attack — specifically targeting Shias — this year on buses plying this route. In February, 18 Shias from Gilgit-Baltistan were similarly target-killed by gunmen who first identified them before gunning them down. Another such killing took place in Chilas on the Karakoram Highway in April as part of cycle of revenge attacks that resulted in the Army being called out in Gilgit.

In a separate incident on Thursday evening, three people were killed in Quetta which has seen a large number of attacks on Hazara Shias over the past year. The identity of the victims was not clear till late in the evening.

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