Six worshippers die in Quetta shrine attack

August 30, 2014 - 12:00:00 am

QUETTA: Gunman 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 said yesterday.

The attack came at a shrine of the Zikri community in Awaran district, around 650 kilometres southwest of Quetta, the capital of restive Balochistan province.

Oil and gas rich Balochistan is wracked by a separatist insurgency, Islamist militants and sectarian violence and attacks on minority groups are not uncommon.

“Three gunman came on two motorbikes and fired at the worshippers, praying at sunset. At least six people have been killed and seven others are injured,” Akbar Harifal, the senior administration official in the area said.

“The gunmen escaped after the attack.”

Provincial home secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani 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 the walls in the province last week.

Balochistan, which borders Iran and Afghanistan, is Pakistan’s largest province but also its poorest and least developed.

Ethnic Baloch rebels have long waged a low-level insurgency seeking either full independence or a greater share of the province’s mineral wealth.

The province has also been the scene of numerous bloody terror attacks on Shias.     

The Balochistan region is administratively divided among three countries, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.