Kohistan Bus Attack: Jundallah, Lashkare Jhangvi Adopt Similar Tactics

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Context

Commander of the outlawed group Jundallah, Ahmed Marwat, claimed responsibility for the attack on a bus traveling on Karakoram Highway in Kohistan on February 28, resulting in the death of 18 people. Seven armed men, in army uniform attacked the bus, and shot the passengers after checking their identification cards. Most of the passengers were returning after pilgrimage to the holy shrines in Iran. The ambush happened near the town of Hurban Nullah.

After the incident, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik set up a three-member investigation team, belonging to Inter Service Intelligence (ISI), Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Federal Investigative Agency (FIA).

The tactics used in this attack are similar to the ones used in Balochistan province recently. In October of last year, unidentified gunmen on motorcycle opened fire on a bus headed to Hazara Ganji. The passengers who were on their way to the fruit and vegetable market were removed from the bus, lined up and shot by assailants. Fourteen people belonging to the Shia community were killed and seven injured in this ambush. In a statement released at that time, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) warned the killings “exposes once again the diminishing writ of the state.”

In September 2011, 26 Shia pilgrims were killed in a similar fashion in the town of Mastung when armed gunmen attacked a bus carrying Shia pilgrims from Quetta to Iran. Two vehicles had intercepted the bus; the passengers were forced off the vehicle, and then fired upon by 8 to 10 assailants. The banned militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi had claimed responsibility for the attack.