Roadside bomb targeted Shia Muslims traveling to Haramosh village.
At least three people were killed and nine others injured when a roadside bomb hit a passenger van near Gilgit town in northern Pakistan on Thursday, officials said.
“The incident occurred near Haramosh village on Gilgit-Skardu road when a passenger van was hit by a roadside bomb blast,” said Zain Muhammad, a police official in Gilgit. He said the injured included five women, two men and three children, adding that all the passengers were Shia Muslims.
“It’s a sectarian attack, the passenger van was going to Haramosh which is a completely Shia populated valley,” he said. Muhammad Ali Zia, another senior police official, confirmed the incident. “It was a roadside bomb blast, but we are yet trying to confirm whether it was blown up with a timer device or remote control device,” he said.
A senior official of the Gilgit-Baltistan home department said the federal interior ministry had issued an alert to the Gilgit-Baltistan government last week warning of a possible sectarian attack. “The interior ministry letter said Shia community might be targeted on the Karakorum Highway (KKH) in reaction to the killing of a Sunni cleric in the garrison city of Rawalpindi recently,” he told AFP, requesting not to be named.
Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan region is relatively peaceful and bomb blasts are rare, but gunmen killed nine foreign tourists including their Pakistani guide on the base camp of Nanga Parbat in June last year. Shia passengers traveling on the Karakorum Highway (KKH) have also come under attack from Sunni extremist groups.
In August 2012, armed men wearing military uniforms stopped buses on the KKH, killing 25 Shia passengers after identifying them from their identity cards. Another 18 Shia passengers were killed in the same manner later that year.