QUETTA, Pakistan — Suspected Sunni Muslim militants attacked a bus carrying Shi’ite pilgrims in southwest Pakistan Thursday, killing at least 10 people, officials said.

In a separate incident, a roadside bomb hit a paramilitary convoy in the country’s northwest, killing seven soldiers, a government official said.

Shi’ite Muslims are a minority in overwhelmingly Sunni Pakistan. Although most Sunnis and Shi’ites live peacefully together, extremists from both sides have targeted each other over the past three decades. In recent years, Sunni attacks on Shi’ites have been far more common. The Sunni-Shi’ite schism over the true heir to the Prophet Mohammed dates to the seventh century.


The bus that was attacked with a bomb and gunfire was carrying around 40 passengers and was traveling from Iran to Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s Baluchistan Province, said senior local police officer Hamid Shakeel.

Police are unsure whether the bus was hit by a car bomb or explosives buried next to the road, said Quetta police chief Mir Zubair Mahmood.

In addition to those killed, 25 people were wounded, said Mohammed Jafar, a doctor at the main hospital in Quetta.

The wounded included four policemen who were escorting the bus, Shakeel said.

Local TV video showed rescue workers using a crane to lift the blackened remains of the bus out of a ditch where it fell during the attack.

The roadside bomb attack on the paramilitary convoy occurred as it was passing through a bazaar in Bara town in the Khyber tribal area, where the military is waging a bloody battle against the Pakistani Taliban and their allies, said Iqbal Khan, a local political official. Two soldiers were wounded.

The Khyber offensive is one of many the military has launched in the semiautonomous tribal region along the Afghan border over the past few years. While the operations have helped reduce militant violence in Pakistan, attacks against the security forces and civilian targets are still common.


Associated Press