Multiple major attacks killed hundreds of Shi’ites in the month of February, and March is starting off no better for the religious minority in Pakistan, with a huge double bombing in the Shi’ite neighborhood of the financial capital of Karachi killing at least 48 and wounding 180 others.
The twin blasts targeted a Shi’ite prayer hall as people were leaving from evening prayers. The first blast was a car bombing, and a second blast was detonated 10 minutes later as people were trying to rescue the wounded from the first blast. Police say the second strike was likely a gas bomb.
Shi’ite residents have been complaining nationwide about the government’s relative ambivalence about such attacks, and today’s strikes appeared to follow that trend, with residents noting not a single government official even bothered to visit the area in the aftermath.
So far there has been no claim of responsibility, but the smart money is on the Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ), a Sunni militant group that was founded primarily to attack Shi’ites, who they consider religious heretics. The LeJ has claimed similar attacks in the past, including last month’s Quetta bombings.
The sectarian violence adds complexity to an already difficult situation in Karachi, where supporters of the two major local political parties, divided largely along ethnic lines, have been trading attacks for years.