Two killed in racially-motivated attack in southwestern Pakistan

Hazaras are often the victims of hate crimes in Pakistan. (Reuters pic)

QUETTA: Two people of Hazara descent were shot dead in an attack in southwestern Pakistan on Sunday, where targeted killings of minorities have continued despite improvements in overall security.

Three Hazara men were travelling together on the outskirts Quetta, capital of Pakistan’s province of Balochistan, when two men on a motorcycle opened fire on them, killing two and wounding the third, a police official said.

“It is a sectarian target killing,” senior police officer Syed Attaullah Shah told Reuters.

No group has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack.

At least six Hazaras have been killed in targeted killings in the past two months in Quetta, the official added.

Hazaras are a mainly Shi’ite Muslim community, and are frequently targeted by Taliban, the Islamic State, and other Sunni Muslim militant groups for their religious beliefs in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Many Hazaras fled to Pakistan during decades of conflict in neighbouring Afghanistan, and nearly half a million now live in and around Quetta.

In 2013, three separate bombings killed more than 200 people in Hazara neighbourhoods, raising international awareness of the plight of the community.

The violence in Balochistan has fueled concern about security for projects in the US$57-billion (RM222 billion) China Pakistan Economic Corridor, a transport and energy link planned to run from western China to Pakistan’s southern deep-water port of Gwadar.

In December two suicide bombers stormed a packed church in Quetta, killing at least 10 people and wounding up to 56. The attack was claimed by the Islamic State.