PRIME Minister Stephen Harper on Wednesday said that Canada condemns the cowardly terrorist attack on a bus carrying Shi’a Ismaili Muslims in Karachi, Pakistan, that killed many people and injured several more.
Harper said: “It is particularly chilling that gunmen opened fire indiscriminately, murdering many Ismailis regardless of their gender or age. It is an affront to everyone who cherishes religious freedom. We urge the Government of Pakistan to bring the perpetrators to justice and to ensure that all religious minorities in the country are protected and their religious freedom guaranteed.
“On behalf of all Canadians, Laureen and I offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who perished in this murderous attack. We also offer our heartfelt prayers that those injured may have a speedy recovery.
“I have worked closely with His Highness the Aga Khan over the years and know first-hand of the peaceful nature of the Shi’a Ismaili community here in Canada and around the world. We mourn with His Highness and the entire Shi’a Ismaili Imamat who have consistently stood for peace, pluralism and religious freedom.”
IANS reports: At least 45 people were killed and 20 injured on Wednesday when gunmen opened fire inside a bus carrying Ismaili Muslims in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, evoking strong condemnation from all corners.
The incident took place near the Safoora Chowk area in the provincial capital of Sindh.
Sindh Police Inspector General Ghulam Haider Jamali has said some 65 people were travelling in the bus.
“About six attackers got off three motorcycles, got on the bus and and then fired indiscriminately. They used 9 mm pistols to shoot the victims,” he said.
Further investigation revealed that the attackers also used sub-machine guns (SMGs).
The Sindh police chief vowed to apprehend the attackers and bring them to justice.
Most of the injured were taken to the nearby Memon Hospital Insitute while others were taken to Aga Khan Hospital and Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.
The attackers first killed the driver and then opened indiscriminate fire on the passengers, shooting them in the head and neck, said the preliminary police investigation report.
An injured bus conductor later managed to drive the bus to the Memon Hospital Institute, about seven km away, where an emergency was imposed due the large number of wounded people.
Video footage of the bus did not show bullet holes on the body of the vehicle suggesting that the attackers entered the bus and fired their guns.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah told the media it was apparent that the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant organisation was behind the deadly attack.
Visiting Safoora Goth, the chief minister said that a banned group had claimed that they carried out the attack.
“It is apparent that the TTP is behind this attack. The IG (Inspector General) and DSP (Deputy Superintendent of Police) are with me. An interim report will be released in three days, and a detailed report will be completed in one week,” said the chief minister.
When asked about the effectiveness of the Sindh administration, he said that his government had the support of the people and that the post-attack operation that has been launched was showing progress.
He said that such incidents also take place in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and that he would resign if his government did not perform.
“We are saddened that this extremely peaceful community has been targeted,” said Shah. He vowed that the terrorists would not be spared and would be brought to justice.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, while condemning the attack, asked for a report from the interior ministry which later sought details of the attack from the inspector-general of police, Sindh, and the director general of the Pakistan Rangers.
Sharif also called off his official engagements for the day and left for the port city.
The attack was also condemned by Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also condemned the incident.
“The attack in Karachi is deeply saddening & utterly condemnable. Our thoughts are with the families of the deceased,” Modi tweeted.
“We stand firmly with the people of Pakistan in this hour of grief. I wish all those injured quick recovery,” he added.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan tweeted that he was stunned and grieved at the most condemnable terror attack in Karachi on ordinary citizens of Pakistan belonging to a most peaceful community.
Qaim Ali Shah has also ordered the immediate suspension of the area’s station house officer and district superintendent of police.
Following the attack, Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, who also cancelled his planned three-day visit to Sri Lanka, visited the area to evaluate the situation.