63 killed, 200 wounded in an attack against a Shiite mosque in Peshawar
by Massimo Introvigne
It does not stop. Last month, Bitter Winter published a series on the discrimination and persecution of Shiite Muslims by the Sunni majority and terrorist groups in Pakistan. The series was mostly about the Hazaras, an ethnic and religious minority who came to Pakistan in subsequent waves escaping persecution in Afghanistan, but we duly noted that Shiites in general are persecuted.
The last deadly attacks were carried out by the Islamic State (ISIS), which is active in Pakistan since 2014 and regards Shiite as non-Muslim infidels. We noted that ISIS is an enemy of both the Taliban-dominated Afghan and the Pakistani state. While the Pakistani government cannot be accused of encouraging ISIS terrorism, Hazaras and other Shiites claim that it failed to protect them properly, and also suspect that terrorists may have accomplices within the Pakistani secret services and other governmental agencies.
The body count is still going on for the victims of the last deadly ISIS attack against the Shiite community in Pakistan, which occurred during the Friday prayer of March 4 at the mosque inside the Qissa Khwani Bazaar in Peshawar. Now the official estimates set the victims at 63, while the number of wounded exceeds 200. Among the victims are two police officers who tried to stop the two suicide attackers. Since several of the wounded are in critical conditions, the death toll will likely rise.
ISIS’s Afghan-Pakistani branch, the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, has claimed the attack.
In 2015, ISIS conducted its first anti-Shiite attack in Pakistan, by killing 43 Shiite bus passengers in Karachi. In 2016, a single 14-year-old suicide terrorist killed at least 52 and injured over 100 by detonating a suicide belt in the Sufi Shah Noorani Shrine in Khuzdar, Balochistan. Another 90 were killed and 300 injured by an ISIS suicide attack in 2017 against the Sufi Shrine of Lal Shabaz Qalandar in Sehwan, Sindh. On April 12, 2019, the Hazarganji vegetable market in Quetta, Balochistan was targeted by a suicide bomber on April 12, 2019, and ten Hazara Shiites were killed.
On January 3, 2021, miners working in the coal mines of Machh, Balochistan, were attacked. The ISIS terrorists separated the Hazaras from the Sunni miners, took away 11 Hazaras, and killed them by slitting their throats.
ISIS has now replaced Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) as the deadliest terrorist anti-Shiite group in Pakistan. Measures to protect the Shiites continue to be denounced as inadequate.