QUETTA, Pakistan (Reuters) - Suspected Islamist militants on Friday opened fire on a group of Pakistani Shi’ites in the town of Quetta, killing at least eight and wounding 15, police said, the first major violent incident since the death of Osama bin Laden.
The killing of the al Qaeda leader by U.S. commandos in a Pakistani town has triggered fears of a backlash from Sunni militant groups operating in the country, many of them with ties to al Qaeda.
Police official Hamid Shakil said the Shi’ites were in a neighborhood park in Quetta in southwestern Pakistan when they were shot at. The attackers fled, he said.
“They were taking morning exercise when the attackers came in two cars and indiscriminately opened fire on them,” he told Reuters.
He quoted residents as saying the attackers fired rockets before shooting.
Sunni Muslim militants, who have carried out a wave of attacks in Pakistan over the past several years, have also targeted minority Shi’ites, which they view as heretics.
No one has claimed responsibility for the latest attack.
Officials have blamed most of previous attacks on Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), one of the most notorious Pakistani militant groups allied to al Qaeda.
Shi’ites roughly account for up to 20 percent of Pakistan’s mainly Sunni Muslim population of 170 million.
Writing by Zeeshan Haider; Editing by Rebecca Conway and Sanjeev Miglani