KARACHI(Pakistan): Funeral prayers for 44 victims of the deadly gun-attack on an Ismaili community bus were offered Thursday morning at the Al-Azhar Garden colony in Karachi.
The bodies were later shifted for burial to a community graveyard in Sakhi Hassan area under tight security.
44 people were killed and several injured after gunmen opened fire on a bus of the Ismaili community near Safoora Chowrangi area of Karachi on Wednesday.
Between 60 and 65 people were riding in the overloaded bus, which belonged to the Ismaili community. The bus was traveling towards Aisha Manzil when it was attacked, police said.
All the victims, which included both men and women, belonged to the minority community.
“At least six gunmen attacked the bus in the Safoora Goth area of Karachi,” said a senior police official.
“The gunmen stopped the bus and first fired at it from outside,” said the policeman. “Then they entered inside the bus and open fire indiscriminately. After that they checked to see if anyone was left uninjured.”
Most of the injured were taken to the nearby Memon Hospital Insitute while others were taken to Aga Khan Hospital and Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.
Initial police investigation revealed that the six gunmen riding on three motorcycles stopped the bus and entered it from the back door.
The attackers first killed the driver and then opened indiscriminate fire on the passengers, shooting them in the head and neck.
An injured bus conductor later managed to drive the bus to the Memon Hospital Institute, about 7 kilometres away, where an emergency was imposed due the large number of wounded people.
Recalling details of the attack, a 48-year-old injured female eyewitness told police that the bus was surrounded and stopped at a deserted area by the terrorists, who entered it from the back door.
She said that the attackers first killed the driver, while the passengers were told to kneel with their heads facing the ground.
The attackers, one of whom she recalls as being clean-shaven, took two children aside before one of them ordered the others to “shoot them all”.
Doctors at the Aga Khan hospital said the woman was shot but was out of danger. The fate of the children was unclear.
Police said the woman’s account was being treated as initial information, and that she may be questioned again by investigators.
At the Memon Hospital Institute, where most of the wounded were rushed, crying relatives formed a human chain outside the main building to keep onlookers away.
A sobbing middle-aged man said: “I have come to collect the body of my young son. He was a student preparing for his first year exams at college.”
The bus itself, which had been driven after the attack to the hospital, was blood-drenched and riddled with bullet holes.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif along with Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif and other participants of a high-level meeting held at Governor House, met with the president of Isamili community’s national council and offered condolences over the Safoora gun attack at his residence in Karachi.
Targeted operation conducted in Sohrab Goth, Lasi Goth and areas around Memon Hospital, in which 70 suspects were rounded up, a Rangers spokesman said late on Wednesday.
The raids were also conducted at suspected hideouts of banned outfits in Ayub Goth, Machar Colony, Afghan Basti, Janjal Goth, Jamali Goth and Faqeera Goth, he added.
Authorities have decided to beef up security of coastal areas to avoid a possible escape route for terrorists behind Karachi bus gun attack, sources told Geo News.
The decision was taken at a high-level meeting, they added.
Surveillance of fishermen villages, creek areas and fish harbours have been directed besides documenting fishing boats and their crew.
A high-level meeting, headed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is underway at the Governor House to review overall security of Karachi and the country in the aftermath of Safoora carnage.
Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif, DG Rangers and Defence Minister Khawaja Asif are also accompanying the prime minister.
Governor Sindh Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, the Corps Commander Karachi and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leaders Dr Farooq Sattar and Rashid Godil are also attending the meeting.
DG Rangers Maj-Gen Bilal Akbar, IGP Sindh Ghulam Haider Jamali and the chief secretary Sindh briefed the meeting over the Safoora bus attack.
Speaking to the participants, the premier expressed his deepest grief on the tragic incident. “Peaceful people including women are targeted by the terrorists today,” he said.
Prime Minster Sharif also directed for every possible step to arrest the culprits of today’s attack at the earliest.
He said Karachi is Pakistan’s economic and trading hub and today’s incident holds vital significance. PM Nawaz said that the enemies of Pakistan do not like the economic progress of the country.
“To put a stop to Pakistan’s economic progress is the agenda of the enemies,” said the prime minister. “There is a need to keep an eye out for such enemies [of the country],” he added.
Earlier, Prime Minister Sharif landed in Karachi to oversee measures being taken to eradicate terrorism form the port city.
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