A dozen Hazara Shias were gunned down in yet another case of target killing in Quetta on Tuesday morning that was almost a repeat of what happened in the Balochistan capital just a fortnight ago. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi — whose leader Malik Ishaq was arrested late last month under the Maintenance of Public Order law as a preventive measure in the wake of a spate of attacks on Shias — is reported to have taken responsibility for the attack.
According to the police, four gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on the bus ferrying the minority Hazara Shias — easily identifiable because of their Mongloid features — from the Hazara-dominated town of Hazarganji to Quetta on the outskirts of the provincial capital. Most of the victims were labourers on their way to the fruit and vegetable market for work.
What has angered the community and the secular liberal lobby of Pakistan the most is that this should have happened within a fortnight of the Mastung massacre on September 20 when over a score Hazara Shias were similarly gunned down in the province.
Though the police had been instructed to escort buses commonly used by the community, the bus which was attacked today did not have any security accompanying it. The police contention was that they did not have information about Shias travelling on this particular bus though other buses ferrying members of the community were under protection.
As news broke of the attack on the bus, a large number of Hazara Shias staged a demonstration outside the Bolan Hospital where the injured were undergoing treatment. Shouting slogans against the government, they protested at the abject failure of the state to provide them security despite repeated attacks on the community.