ISLAMABAD – Members of a radical Sunni Muslim group clashed Friday with minority Shiites in central Pakistan, fighting that killed nine, police said.
The clashes between the Ahle Sunnat Waljamaat members and the Shiites happened in the town of Bhakkar in Punjab province, police official Abdullah Khan said. The conflict followed a protest rally held by the Sunnis after one of their members was gunned down while closing his shop. Five Sunnis and four Shiites were killed in the clashes, Khan said.
Pakistan has experienced worseningsectarianviolence in recent years, especially attacks by radical Sunnis targeting Shiites.
Also Friday, gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire outside a Sunni seminary on the outskirts of the capital, Islamabad, killing two people and wounding a third, police official Mohammad Bashir said.
As per another News (Press Tv)
Members of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, the new name of the banned anti-Shia group Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), were involved in Friday’s clashes, which happened in the town of Bhakkar in Punjab province.
At least two militants were also killed in the violence.
The SSP was established in the early 1980s during the militaryrule of General Zia-ul-Haq. However, Pervez Musharraf, another military ruler, banned the outfit in 2002, declaring it a terrorist organization under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997.
Hundreds of Shia Muslims later held a demonstration in Bhakkar against the killings and blocked a local road.
The protesters also called on the government to take immediate action against the forces involved in the violence.
Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen, which is one of the largest Shia political formations in Pakistan, announced a three-day mourning period for the victims.
Human rights groups have criticized the Pakistani government for its failure to stem the rising tide of violence against the country’s Shia Muslims.
According to Human Rights Watch, about 400 Shia Muslims were killed in 2012 in Pakistan, and more than 200 have been killed since the beginning of 2013.
The New York-based group said Islamabad’s failure to capture or prosecute terrorists suggested it was “indifferent” to the killings.
On February 16, a bomb attack targeting Shia Muslims in the main bazaar of the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta killed at least 90 people, including women and children, and injured 200 others. According to the police, most of the victims were Hazara Shias.
On January 10, a twin bomb attack at a crowded billiard hall killed more than 90 people, mostly Shia Muslims, in Quetta, which is the capital of Balochistan province.
According to former Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik, anti-Shia terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) has been involved in 80 percent of terrorist incidents in the country.
The LeJ was founded in 1996 by Riaz Basra after he broke away from the SSP over differences with his superiors.