KARACHI: At least 45 people were killed and several injured after gunmen opened fire on a bus of the Ismaili community near Safoora Chowrangi area of Karachi on Wednesday.
Between 60 and 65 people were riding in the overloaded bus, which belonged to the Ismaili community. The bus was traveling towards Aisha Manzil when it was attacked, police said.
All the victims, which included both men and women, belonged to the minority community.
“At least six gunmen attacked the bus in the Safoora Goth area of Karachi,” said a senior police official.
“The gunmen stopped the bus and first fired at it from outside," said the policeman. "Then they entered inside the bus and open fire indiscriminately. After that they checked to see if anyone was left uninjured.”
Most of the injured were taken to the nearby Memon Hospital Insitute while others were taken to Aga Khan Hospital and Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.
Initial police investigation revealed that the six gunmen riding on three motorcycles stopped the bus and entered it from the back door.
The attackers first killed the driver and then opened indiscriminate fire on the passengers, shooting them in the head and neck.
An injured bus conductor later managed to drive the bus to the Memon Hospital Institute, about 7 kilometres away, where an emergency was imposed due the large number of wounded people.
Injured eyewitness recalls horror
Recalling details of the attack, a 48-year-old injured female eyewitness told police that the bus was surrounded and stopped at a deserted area by the terrorists, who entered it from the back door.
She said that the attackers first killed the driver, while the passengers were told to kneel with their heads facing the ground.
The attackers, one of whom she recalls as being clean-shaven, took two children aside before one of them ordered the others to “shoot them all”.
Doctors at the Aga Khan hospital said the woman was shot but was out of danger. The fate of the children was unclear.
Police said the woman's account was being treated as initial information, and that she may be questioned again by investigators.
At the Memon Hospital Institute, where most of the wounded were rushed, crying relatives formed a human chain outside the main building to keep onlookers away.
A sobbing middle-aged man said: “I have come to collect the body of my young son. He was a student preparing for his first year exams at college.”
The bus itself, which had been driven after the attack to the hospital, was blood-drenched and riddled with bullet holes.
PM, Army chief, others offer condolences to Ismaili national council chief
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif along with Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif and other participants of a high-level meeting held at Governor House, met with the president of Isamili community’s national council and offered condolences over the Safoora gun attack at his residence in Karachi.
Former president and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar were also accompanying the premier.
Rangers arrest 70 suspects in targeted operation
Targeted operation conducted in Sohrab Goth, Lasi Goth and areas around Memon Hospital, in which 70 suspects were rounded up, a Rangers spokesman said late on Wednesday.
The raids were also conducted at suspected hideouts of banned outfits in Ayub Goth, Machar Colony, Afghan Basti, Janjal Goth, Jamali Goth and Faqeera Goth, he added.Details here: Rangers arrest 70 suspects after Karachi bus carnage
Security of coastal areas to be beefed up
Authorities have decided to beef up security of coastal areas to avoid a possible escape route for terrorists behind Karachi bus gun attack, sources told Geo News.
The decision was taken at a high-level meeting, they added.
Surveillance of fishermen villages, creek areas and fish harbours have been directed besides documenting fishing boats and their crew.
PM chairs high-level meeting at Governor House
A high-level meeting, headed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is underway at the Governor House to review overall security of Karachi and the country in the aftermath of Safoora carnage.
Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif, DG Rangers and Defence Minister Khawaja Asif are also accompanying the prime minister.
Governor Sindh Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, the Corps Commander Karachi and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leaders Dr Farooq Sattar and Rashid Godil are also attending the meeting.
DG Rangers Maj-Gen Bilal Akbar, IGP Sindh Ghulam Haider Jamali and the chief secretary Sindh briefed the meeting over the Safoora bus attack.
Speaking to the participants, the premier expressed his deepest grief on the tragic incident. “Peaceful people including women are targeted by the terrorists today,” he said.
Prime Minster Sharif also directed for every possible step to arrest the culprits of today’s attack at the earliest.
He said Karachi is Pakistan’s economic and trading hub and today’s incident holds vital significance. PM Nawaz said that the enemies of Pakistan do not like the economic progress of the country.
“To put a stop to Pakistan’s economic progress is the agenda of the enemies,” said the prime minister. “There is a need to keep an eye out for such enemies [of the country],” he added.
Earlier, Prime Minister Sharif landed in Karachi to oversee measures being taken to eradicate terrorism form the port city.Details here: Nawaz terms bus attack ‘enemies bid to impede economic progress’
In pictures: Families mourn victims
Rangers arrest 18 suspects in Safoora, Sohrab Goth
Rangers personnel have carried out raids in Safoora Goth and Sohrab Goth following the bus attack and rounded up 18 suspects.
Meanwhile, police officials investigating the incident said six heavily armed terrorists on 125 cc motorbikes carried out the attack.
In the initial investigation findings, the police officials said that two of the terrorists were attired in the uniforms of a private security company.Details here: Terrorists were wearing uniforms of a private security company: police
Sindh police chief vows to apprehend attackers
Speaking to reporters, Inspector-General Police Sindh Ghulam Haider Jamali confirmed the death toll.
“About six attackers got off three motorcycles, got on the bus and and them fired indiscriminately. They used 9mm pistols to shoot the victims,” he said. Further investigation revealed that the attackers used Sub-Machine Guns (SMG) as well as 9mm pistols.
The Sindh police chief vowed to apprehend the attackers and bring them to justice.
IGP Sindh forms high-level probe committee
IGP Sindh Ghulam Haider Jamali has formed a high-level investigation committee, which would be headed by Karachi police chief Ghulam Qadir Thebo.
Video: Attack investigation
Army chief in Karachi, vows to bring culprits to justice
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif arrived in Karachi after the terrorist attack on an Ismaili community bus.
According to the ISPR, the Army chief arrived in the city to evaluate the situation following the attack.
Army chief General Raheel Sharif held a high-level meeting of military officials at the Corp Headquarters in Karachi. The meeting was also attended by DG ISI, DG Rangers and Corps Commander Karachi.
The Army chief was briefed on the Safoora Chowrangi attack during the meeting.
Later, during a telephonic conversation with Prince Karim Aga Khan, Gen Raheel vowed to bring the culprits behind the carnage to justice at all costs.
He also vowed to take facilitators and sympathizers of the terrorists to their logical conclusion.Read here: Army chief vows to bring terrorists behind Karachi bus attack to justice
Earlier, the COAS cancelled his pre-scheduled visit to Sri Lanka after the attack, DG ISPR Asim Bajwa said in a message sent earlier on Twitter.
Prince Karim Aga Khan shocked, saddened by attack
The leader of the Ismaili community, Prince Karim Aga Khan, has expressed shock and sadness in the wake of the attack targeting the community bus.
“This attack represents a senseless act of violence against a peaceful community. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and the families of those killed and wounded in the attack,” a press release by the Aga Khan Development Network quoted him as saying.
Army Chief General Raheel Sharif has spoken with Prince Karim Aga Khan and expressed sorrow over the loss of innocent lives.
Ismaili community protests in Hunza
Ismaili community living in Hunza observed a complete shutter-down strike in the district and staged a protest demonstration against this morning’s brutal terrorist attack on a bus in Karachi.Details here: Karachi bus attack: Ismaili community protests in Hunza
Rangers seek citizens’ help in identifying culprits
A spokesman of Rangers paramilitary force has made a public appeal to share all information in connection with today’s Safoora carnage on 1101 helpline.
He said that the identity of the caller would be kept secret. The Rangers spokesman further said that the terrorists can be defeated with taking the masses onboard.
Video: How the Karachi bus attack took place
CM Sindh says TTP behind attack
Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah said it was apparent that the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant organisation was behind the deadly gun-attack on the bus belonging to the Ismaili community.
Visiting Karachi's Safoora Goth area where the fatal gun attack was carried out, 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 and DSP 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 that support of the people and that it had also shown progress in the Karachi operation.
He said that such incidents also take place in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and that he would resign if his government does not perform.
"We are saddened that this extremely peaceful community has been targeted," said Qaim Ali Shah. He vowed that the terrorists will not be spared and will be brought to justice.Details here: CM Sindh says banned TTP behind Karachi attack
PM summons report from Interior Ministry
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the horrific attack in Karachi. The prime minister has notice of the incident and summoned a report from the Interior Ministry.
Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah has announced Rs500,000 for the families of the deceased and Rs 200,000 for the injured. The chief minister has also announced that medical treatment would be provided to the wounded free of cost.
“This attack was carried out in a planned way by terrorists. Hopefully they will be traced,” he said.
Shah also issued orders to suspend the Deputy Superintendent (DSP) Station House Officer (SHO) of the area where the incident took place.
DG Rangers briefs Interior Minister
Interior Minister Chaurdhy Nisar Ali Khan spoke with Director General Sindh Rangers Major General Bilal Akbar.
The DG told the minister that the paramilitary force is trying to arrest the attackers on the basis of evidence gathered by investigators so far.
Day of mourning to be observed on Thursday
Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon said that the incident was a national tragedy in which terrorists had brutally targeted unarmed, innocent and peaceful citizens of Karachi.
"They find soft targets, and now they have targeted a peaceful community. This is not an attack on the Aga Khan community but an attack on the whole of Pakistan," he said.
Memon said that some clues had been found but he could not reveal them so as not to hamper the investigation.
"Some clues have been found, but we cannot disclose them right now because we want to catch the terrorists. There are some leads, but cannot share them at the moment," he said.
The information minister announced that a day of mourning would be observed across Sindh on Thursday, and the national flag will also be lowered at government buildings to pay homage to the victims of the attack.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Awami National Party (ANP), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Tahafuz-e-Azadari Council Pakistan also announced a nationwide day of mourning on Thursday.
The Shia Ulema Council have said that would observe three days of mourning.
Meanwhile the Karachi Tajir Ittehad Council has also announced that shops in the city will remain closed on Thursday.
PM announces country-wide day of mourning on Thursday
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has announced a country-wide day of mourning on Thursday to denounce brutal terrorist attack on Isamili community in Karachi.
The premier is also on his way to Karachi and would attend a meeting on overall law and order situation in the city.
Governor Sindh offers condolences to Prince Karim, Ismaili delegation
Governor Sindh Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan has offered condolences to aggrieved Ismaili community in a meeting with a delegation of the minority community.
He also telephoned head of the community, Prince Karim Aga Khan to express his sadness over the tragic incident.
Political, religious leaders condemn attack
Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid strongly condemned the attack saying that terrorists were “neither Muslim nor Pakistani”. The information minister urged the political leadership of the country to speak out against this deplorable act of terrorism.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement Chief Altaf Hussain said his party would observe a black day on Thursday in protest the militant attack on Ismaili Community.
Speaking exclusively to Geo News, he lamented that nobody trusted him when he said Taliban and other terrorists groups have their presence in Karachi. “Terrorists left Daish (Islamic State pamphlets) at the crime scene, is it not enough to open our eyes,” he said.
Altaf Hussain said that as to why the police post at the Safoora Chorwangi was unmanned.
Condemning the attack, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan questioned the effectiveness of the Sindh provincial government.
Qaumi Awami Tehreek (QAT) leader Ayaz Latif Palejo said that the attack was the failure of the sindh government and law enforcement authorities.
“The Sindh government should resign immediately after this failure,” he said.
Chairman Pakistan Ulema Council Allama Tahir Ashrafi said this was an act of terrorism. "Islam does not permit attack women even on the battlefield," he said.
Allama Ashrafi said the Ismaili community was peaceful as he called for concrete measures to tackle terrorism.
India stands with people of Pakistan: Modi
In a message posted on Twitter, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the attack in Karachi and expressed his sympathies with families of the deceased.
The India prime minister further said: "we stand firmly with the people of Pakistan in this hour of grief."
US offers assistance in investigation
On behalf of the American people, US Ambassador Richard Olson extended the deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims of the heinous bus attack in Karachi and strongly condemned the senseless terrorist attack.
According to press release, the US remains steadfast in its commitment to the Pakistani people in their efforts against counter-terrorism and supports the right of every person to worship as they choose, without fear of intimidation, coercion or violence.
“We support Pakistan’s efforts to bring all those involved to justice and stand ready to provide any appropriate assistance to authorities investigating this tragic attack,” the press release said.
UN urges Pakistan to protect religious minorities after attack
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Pakistan to move quickly to protect religious minorities following the attack.
Ban condemned "in the strongest possible terms the terrorist attack" and called on Pakistan to bring those responsible to justice.
He urged the government to "take swift measures aimed at effective protection of religious minorities in the country."