Militants Kill Eight Shiite Muslims in Pakistan


Militants opened fire on a passenger van in a lawless northwestern Pakistani town on Sunday, killing at least eight Shiite Muslims and wounding seven others, police said.

The incident took place in Hangu district, 150 kilometers southwest of Peshawar, the capital of insurgency-hit Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province.

"Militants intercepted a passenger van at Mamoo Khwar village in Hangu district and opened fire, killing eight passengers and wounding seven others," senior local police official Abdul Rashid told Agence France Presse.

He said, "It seems to be a sectarian incident, as all those killed in the firing were Shiite Muslims."

He said that the militants, who numbered six, fled the scene but police later launched an operation in the area and killed three rebels.

"A search operation has already been launched to arrest the remaining ones," he said.

Police spokesman Fazal Naeem also confirmed the incident and casualties in Hangu, a town that regularly suffers from sectarian violence and a Taliban-linked insurgency.

Pakistan's northwest and tribal areas have been wracked by violence since hundreds of Taliban and al-Qaida fighters sought refuge there after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

The government has claimed a number of military successes against the Islamist hardliners during the last two years, but attacks continue across the country and are concentrated in the northwest.