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Central & South Asia

Gunmen target minority sect in Pakistan

At least six people from the Zikri community shot dead at a shrine in Awaran district in the south of the country.

Last updated: 29 Aug 2014 09:33
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Gunmen have opened fire on worshippers at a shrine in southwest Pakistan, killing at least six members of a minority Islamic sect and wounding seven others, officials have said.

The attack came at a shrine of the Zikri community in Awaran district, in the south of the restive Balochistan province.

"Three gunmen came on two motorbikes and fired at the worshippers, praying at sunset," Akbar Harifal, the senior administration official in the area, told the AFP news agency.

"At least six people have been killed and seven others are injured … The gunmen escaped after the attack."

Akbar Hussain Durrani, provincial home secretary, also confirmed the attack.

Zikris are relatively a new sect of Muslims in Pakistan who worship in groups at shrines and on mountains in remote, sparsely populated Balochistan.

No group has claimed the attack but graffiti warning Zikris and Hindus to embrace mainstream Islam or face being killed appeared on walls in the province last week.

Oil and natural gas-rich Balochistan, which borders Iran and Afghanistan, is wracked by separatist fighters and sectarian violence.

It is Pakistan's largest province but also its poorest and least developed.

Ethnic Baluch rebels have long waged a low-level fight with the government, seeking either full independence or a greater share of the province's mineral wealth.

The province has also been the scene of numerous violent attacks on Shia Muslims.

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