April 3, 2018 / 6:48 AM / in 17 days

Islamic State claims attack on Christian family in Pakistan

Quetta, Pakistan (Reuters) - The militant group Islamic State on Tuesday claimed responsibility for killing four members of a Christian family in southwestern Pakistan.

Men move the body of one a man from Christian family, who was killed by unidentified gunmen, into an ambulance at a hospital morgue in Quetta, Pakistan April 2, 2018. REUTERS/Naseer Ahmed

A statement issued by the group claimed that militants belonging to ISIS fired on the group of Christians as they were traveling in the city of Quetta, killing four on Monday.

Islamic State has affiliates in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, many drawn from existing Islamist militant groups, who support their vehement sectarian views against Shi’ite Muslims and non-Muslims.

The family was traveling in a rickshaw when armed men on a motorcycle intercepted them and opened fire in Quetta city, the capital of Baluchistan province.

The family had come to visit relatives in Quetta’s Shahzaman road area, where a large number of the city’s Christian community lives.

“It appears to have been a targeted attack,” provincial police official Moazzam Jah Ansari told Reuters. “It was an act of terrorism.”

The attack came a day after Pakistan’s Christian community celebrated Easter on Sunday. Around 2 percent of Pakistan’s population of 208 million are Christians.

Minority religious festivals are a security concern in the majority Sunni Muslim country where there have been a number of high casualty attacks on Christians and Shi’ite Muslims.

Baluchistan, a region bordering Iran as well as Afghanistan, is plagued by violence by Sunni Islamist groups linked to the Taliban, al Qaeda and Islamic State.

It also has an indigenous ethnic Baloch insurgency fighting against central government.

In December, a week before Christmas, two suicide bombers stormed a packed Christian church in southwestern Pakistan, killing at least 10 people and wounding up to 56, in an attack claimed by Islamic State.

Reporting by Syed Raza Hassan; Editing by Michael Perry

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