Four killed in attack on Christians in Pakistan's Quetta

Members of same family targeted outside relative's home while visiting southwestern city to celebrate Easter holiday.

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    The shooting in Quetta was the latest to target Pakistan's Christian community [Arshad Butt/AP]
    The shooting in Quetta was the latest to target Pakistan's Christian community [Arshad Butt/AP]

    ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - At least four people have been killed in an attack targeting Christians in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, officials say, the latest violence to target members of the minority in the South Asian country.

    The four men, all members of the same Christian family, were shot to death outside a relative's home in the Shah Zaman neighbourhood of the city on Monday evening.

    "One young girl has been wounded, and four people have been killed, they were all Christians," Ali Mardan, a senior police official, told Al Jazeera by telephone.

    "They were shot dead."

    The family had travelled to Quetta to celebrate Easter with relatives, a family member told Al Jazeera.

    WITNESS: Armed with Faith (47:40)

    "They were guests of ours, they came from Punjab [province] to celebrate Easter. As they left the house to go to the bazaar after dinner […] they were fired upon," said Tariq Masih, a relative to the victims.

    No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

    At least four people were killed in a separate, unrelated shooting incident in Quetta on Monday, officials said.

    That incident was related to a personal enmity, police said.

    Attacks on minorities

    Pakistan has been battling armed groups including the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its allies, who seek to impose a strict interpretation of Islamic law on the country, since 2007.

    Violence has dropped in recent years, as a series of military operations have succeeded in displacing the TTP and allied groups from their strongholds in northwestern Pakistan, but sporadic large casualty attacks continue.

     

    Attacks often target Pakistan's minorities, including Shia Muslims as well as Christians, Hindus and members of the Ahmadiyya sect.

    In December, a suicide bomb and gun attack targeting Sunday services at a church in Quetta killed at least eight people and left dozens of others wounded.

    The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group claimed responsibility for that attack in a statement, but provided no proof of its involvement.

    ISIL, also known as ISIS, has claimed responsibility for several attacks targeting civilians in Balochistan province, of which Quetta is the capital, in recent years, including an attack on a Sufi shrine and multiple attacks on Hazara Shias.

    On Sunday, a Hazara Shia man was killed and another wounded in a targeted attack in a Quetta bazaar, local media reported.

    In all, at least 242 people were killed in attacks in Balochistan province in 2017, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal research organisation.

    Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera's Web Correspondent in Pakistan. Additional reporting by Saadullah Akhtar in Quetta.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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