A Taliban splinter group has claimed responsibility for the killing of more than 45 people in the southern port city of Karachi on Wednesday.
Ahmed Nawaz Murwat, a purported spokesman for the Jundullah militant group, told local media by telephone that they had carried out the attack on a bus carrying 60 members of the Ismaili Shia community.
Inspector general of the Sindh province -- of which Karachi is the capital -- Ghulam Haider Jamali said 14 were injured in the attack.
Police had earlier blamed the attack on the main Tehreek-e -Taliban Pakistan network, which Jundullah had broken from, claiming it was part of a pattern ofTaliban violence.
"All the Taliban groups have gathered in Karachi, and are carrying out their terrorist activities, including killing of police officers and personnel,” said Rao Anwar Khan, a city police chief.
According to initial reports, six to eight gunmen riding motorbikes stopped the passenger bus in the Safoora Ghot area, a suburban part of eastern Karachi. They first fired at the bus from outside, and then entered, firing indiscriminately, a senior police official told Anadolu Agency.
Jamali said three of the gunmen who stopped the bus were, according to eyewitnesses, in police uniforms. The attackers used 9mm pistols and sub-machineguns in the attack as hospital officials said that most of the deceased were shot in their heads and chests.
An injured woman, whose name was not disclosed, told local Geo TV that three assailants entered the bus from the rear door and immediately shot the driver, who survived.
"I earlier thought they were robbers. After shooting the driver, they separated two minor children and asked us to keep our heads down," said the woman, who was shot in her arm and shoulder.
"All of a sudden, a terrorist standing in the rear portion of the bus, shouted 'fire', and all three resorted to firing wildly," she said.
TV footage also showed the bus had only sparse bullet holes, suggesting that the attackers entered the bus and killed the people from close range.
The floor and seats of the bus were drenched with the blood as honking ambulances rushed to the scene to shift the bodies and the injured to the nearby hospitals.
A state of emergency was declared at city hospitals as doctors appealed for blood donations. The government has announced a day of mourning for Thursday, in the memory of the victims.
Armed violence against religious minorities have surged in recent years, particularly against Shias, of which the Ismaili community is a sub-sect. Shias make up 10 percent of the total 180 million population of Sunni-majority Pakistan.
The population of the Ismaili community is estimated to be up to 300,000 in Pakistan, with most living in Karachi and northern areas that border China.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, former president Asif Zardari, and heads of religious parties have condemned the mass killing, calling it a “national tragedy.”
Sharif directed the security agencies to “go all out” to arrest the killers and planners behind the attack.
Army Chief General Raheel Sharif has cancelled a scheduled three-day visit to Sri Lanka, and reached Karachi where he was briefed by intelligence officials about the attack, according to an army statement.
Turkey condemns Pakistan gun attack on bus
Turkey has condemned the gun attack on a bus in Pakistan in which at least 45 people died and 14 were wounded.
Turkey's Foreign Ministry released a statement on Wednesday offering condolences to the relatives of the victims in the attack in the southern port city of Karachi and wished a speedy recovery to those injured.
"We harshly condemn the terrorist attack. We share brotherly Pakistani people's grief and reiterate our solidarity with the government of Pakistan," the statement read.
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