2012 Kohistan Shia massacre
|February 2012 Kohistan Shia massacre|
|Part of War in North-West Pakistan|
|Location||Kohistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan|
|Date||28 February 2012|
On February 28, 2012, about 12 militants, dressed in military uniforms, stopped buses in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, hauled 18 men out and killed them. All, but one, of the victims were Shia Muslim residents of Gilgit-Baltistan who were travelling by bus from Rawalpindi, Punjab to Gilgit, Gilgit Baltistan. The buses were stopped in Kohistan and the victims killed based on their religious affiliation after identification. The dead included three children while 27 other passengers on the bus were spared.
Jundallah, a banned terrorist organization based in Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the attack. The attack was followed by mass protests by the Shia community of Pakistan wherein they demanded that perpetrators be caught and security be provided to the minority.
Religious extremism is prevalent in Pakistan. Members of the Shia community have been targeted in a number of attacks against the shias in the country. There have been several Incidents of killing of Shia Muslims and bomb blasts in the Shia mosque in Pakistan. The Sunni extremist groups allied to or inspired by al-Qaeda and the Taliban routinely attack government and civilian targets in north-west Pakistan. They also attack the religious minorities and other Muslim sects that they consider to be infidels. The Shias in Pakistan frequently complain that "the Pakistani state does little to stop the attacks and has even released from custody notorious militants accused of carrying them out."
The convoy of four buses were travelling from Rawalpindi, Punjab to Gilgit, Gilgit Baltistan. On a deserted section of the Karakoram Highway (KKH), in Kohistan (an area dominated by Sunni tribes), 10 to 12 gunmen in military uniform flagged the bus for stopping. After the bus halted, the gunmen climbed on board and asked passengers for identification. They checked the identity cards of all the passengers. After which the gunmen dragged a group of Shia men including three children off the bus. They were made to stand in a line by the roadside. Their hands were tied to their back and then sprayed with bullets from AK-47 Assault rifle. After the shooting the gunmen resorted to aerial firing and moved to the nearby hilly areas.
Among those killed was also a Sunni Muslim named Nisar Ahmed, the bus conductor of one of the vehicles. He was killed along with the others when he failed to convince the gunmen that he was a Sunni Muslim. A police official, who had recorded statements from the surviving passengers, said Nisar was shot dead when he erred in answer regarding Fajr prayers.
The Federal Minister for Interior Rehman Malik told reporters that the perpetrators had been caught. However, mass protests erupted in Gilgit as locals demanded compensation of Rs5 million for relatives of each victim. Curfew was imposed on Gilgit city. The protests also caused all government and private offices, educational institutions and business centres across Gilgit-Baltistan to be closed. There were protests shouting "Kargil chalo" (i.e. "Go to Kargil", Kargil being a city on the Indian side of Kashmir; indicating the Shia community no longer felt safe in Gilgit Baltistan.)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned Tuesday’s attack. In a statement read by his spokesperson, he "extended his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims of the ‘abhorrent attack,’ as well as to the government of Pakistan, according to a statement issued by his spokesperson."
On 13 April 2012, hundreds of activists of Shia Ulema Council staged a protest demonstration against sectarian violence in the Pakistan and demanded the government to provide security to the Shia community. The protestors carried flags and banners and raised slogans against the government and the forces involved in terrorist activities, resulting in killing of dozens of Shias in Quetta and Gilgit-Baltistan. The leaders of SUC condemned the continued, targeted killings of Shias. They also blasted the government for its failure in maintaining law and order in Gilgit-Baltistan and called on it to take immediate action against those involved in the sectarian killings. The leaders claimed hundreds of people had died in Parachinar, Hangu, Quetta and Gilgit- Baltistan, and accused the authorities of watching silently the loss of Shia community.
On 14 April 2012 responding to a call by Anjuman-e-Jamiyatul Ulima Asna Ashriya (Islamia School Kargil) to express solidarity with the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, all shops and business establishments in the town remained closed and vehicles kept off the roads in Kargil in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, India. Indian media claimed that protesters raised slogans against the Pakistani Government and Nayib Imam Jumma of Islamia School Kargil, Hujattul Islam Sheikh Hussain Mukaddas appealed to the Indian government to intervene and help stop the killings in the region.
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