Unidentified gunmen kill 7 Shia Muslims in Pakistan

Seven minority Shia Muslims, including a prominent community leader, have been shot dead by four unidentified men in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

Four armed men on two motorcycles reached the house of Shia leader Syed Fazilat Shah alias Phool Shah at Jasoki village in Gujrat district of Punjab Friday, according to eyewitnesses.

Shah was sitting with his family members and followers when the assailants opened indiscriminate fire on them, killing him, his son, son-in-law, two grandsons and two of his followers on the spot, they said.

Five persons were also injured in the attack and they were shifted to a nearby hospital where the condition of three of them is stated to be critical.

The attackers managed to escape.

District police officer Ali Nasir Rizvi said police were investigating all the aspects including sectarian.

A Shia organisation — Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM) — has alleged that armed militants of banned outfits — Punjabi Taliban and Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan — are behind the attack.

The group said since the Bhakkar sectarian clash few weeks back the activists of SSP had killed two Shia Muslims in Lahore and now seven in Gujrat, some 150 km from here.

MWM central information secretary Syed Mehdi Abidi told PTI that Punjabi Taliban and SSP were behind the killings. Abidi said chief minister Shahbaz Sharif-led Punjab government had turned a blind eye to the rise in sectarian killings.

“The government is still denying the presence of Punjabi Taliban in Punjab province and also has given a freehand to SSP to target Shia Muslims with impunity,” Abidi said.

Muzahir Shigri, MWM leader and Punjab spokesman, said that after the Bhakkar incident the SSP and Punjabi Taliban have asked their activists to target Shia Muslims in Punjab, a province of 90 million. Shigri urged the Punjab and federal governments to take serious note of the killings.

Recently, during clashes between Shia and Sunni Muslims in Bhakkar district, some 400 kilometres from here, 15 people belonging to both sects were killed.

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