At least 43 people died Wednesday after terrorists shot them point-blank on a bus in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city.
The assailants, six men on three motorcycles who surrounded the bus before boarding and firing indiscriminately, left behind leaflets claiming the attack was directed by the Islamic State terror group. Official IS online channels echoed the claim. Taliban splinter group Jundallah has also claimed responsibility, according to the BBC.
Pakistani newspaper Dawn reports that at least 13 others were injured.
The victims were all Ismailis, who belong to a small and often misunderstood variant of Shiite Islam. A sizable majority of Pakistan’s Muslims are Sunnis, a distinction that has gained significance in the era of Sunni jihadi extremism. (RELATED: How ISIS And Al-Qaida Benefit From Local Nutjobs)
Their bus was carrying them on their morning commute from the Al-Azhar Garden Colony, an Ismaili housing project. The gunmen stopped it just minutes after departing the neighborhood for the city center.
Karachi, which is also Pakistan’s former capital, is a hub for migrants from around the country seeking economic opportunity. The influx has also led to periodic ethnic and religious clashes in the city. But a BBC contributor wrote that “this is the first such attack on the Ismaili community in Pakistan.”
The country has stepped up its campaign against extremist groups in recent years, and especially since last year’s deadly attack on a school in Peshawar. (RELATED: Why Did The Taliban Kill 130 Schoolchildren?)
Local police confirmed the identities of 25 men and 13 women among the dead. No children were reported killed.