Gunmen Kill Nine, Injure 27 In Pakistan Mosque Shootout
Gunmen in Pakistan fired on the vehicle of a politician driving past worshippers leaving a mosque on the Muslim holy day of Eid, killing nine people and injuring 27 in the western city of Quetta, police said.
Quetta is the capital of eastern Baluchistan province, where several militant groups are active, including the Pakistani Taliban, who claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack that killed 30 people at a policeman’s funeral on Thursday.
The United States has warned citizens not to travel to Pakistan and has ordered the evacuation of non-essential staff from its consulate in the northeastern city of Lahore due to the threat of attack.
Police official Bashir Brohi said Friday’s shooting seemed to have been aimed at former provincial minister Ali Mohammad Jattack as his vehicle went by, but the motive and perpetrators were unclear.
“The majority of the injured faithful were coming from the mosque,” said Brohi. “It was an armed attack on the former minister … it was not an attack on the mosque.”
The attack is the latest instance of spiraling militant violence since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took office two months ago, with a string of high-profile attacks in the last two weeks.
Sharif’s government has not yet presented a security strategy, despite campaign promises to negotiate with militant groups. Security in the capital, Islamabad, was tightened in the run-up to Eid, which ends the Ramadan fasting month.
The United States shut nearly two dozen missions across the Middle East after a worldwide alert on August 2, warning Americans that al Qaeda may be planning attacks in August, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa.
It was unclear when the Lahore consulate would open, a U.S. embassy spokeswoman said.
Tensions have also risen this week with Pakistan’s neighbor, India, after five of its soldiers were killed near the border running through disputed Kashmir.