During a religious procession, four shia muslim men, and one woman were gunned down by sunni militants in Nazimabad, a neighbourhood of Karachi, Pakistan on October 29th. There are unconfirmed reports of a twelve year old boy having also been killed. 

The religious event hosted for shia women took place indoors, while a tent was set up for men out doors. The location was in proximity to a police station, though no police officers were employed near the site of the majlis. Two gunmen on a motorcycle attempted to enter the gates of the house where the event was taking place. When the surrounding men attempted to close the gate to prevent their entry, the gunmen shot, wounded and killed several individuals standing nearby.

Three of the victims killed were brothers; Naiyyar Mehdi Zaidi, Nasir Abbas Zaidi and Baqir Abbas Zaidi. The fourth victim was their uncle; Muhammad Zaki. Naiyyar Mehdi Zaidi was a citizen of the U.K., while his younger brother Nasir Abbas Zaidi was a citizen of the U.S.  

"Two attackers on a motorbike opened indiscriminate fire on the participants coming for the gathering...they fled the scene shortly after."

Tayyab Haider, police representative to AFP

A faction of the sunni militant group Lakshar-e-Janghvi boasted responsibility for the act shortly after its occurrence.

Attacks on shia religious processions are not uncommon in Pakistan; for years, sunni militant groups like LeJ, Sipah e Sahaba (SeS) and the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) have committed regular, frequent attacks on shia muslims in mosques, during religious gatherings and in predominantly shia muslim neighbourhoods.

Several militant groups in Pakistan aim for the complete eradication of shia muslims, whom they consider to be infidels, from the country.

In 2011, LeJ declared war on muslims belonging to the minority sect in an open letter which promised to make Pakistan “a graveyard for Shias”, specifically referencing the Hazara population:

“All Shias are wajib-ul-qatl (worthy of killing). We will rid Pakistan of [this] unclean people. Pakistan means land of the pure, and the Shias have no right to be here. We have the fatwa and signatures of the revered ulema in which the Shias have been declared kaafir [infidel]*. Just as our fighters have waged a successful jihad against the Shia-Hazaras in Afghanistan, our mission [in Pakistan] is the abolition of this impure sect and people, the Shias and the Shia-Hazaras, from every city, every village, every nook and corner of Pakistan. Like in the past, [our] successful Jihad against the Hazaras in Pakistan and, in particular, in Quetta is ongoing and will continue [in the future]. We will make Pakistan their graveyard — their houses will be destroyed by bombs and suicide bombers. We will only rest when we fly the flag of true Islam on this land. Our fighters and suicide bombers have [already] successfully operated in Parachinar**, and are awaiting orders to operate across Pakistan. Jihad against the Shia-Hazaras has now become our duty. Our suicide bombers have successfully operated in Hazara Town on May 6, and now our next target is your houses in Alamdar Road***. As long as our innocent friends aren’t freed [from incarceration], we will continue our operations.”

Though attacks on shia muslims have primarily occurred during events for men, recently sunni militants have begun to target gatherings of women as well. Only a few days ago, a 13 year old minor was killed when sunni militants detonated a device during a similar religious event for women.

Aside from massive terrorist attacks on shia muslim populations, such as the one in Shikarpur, Abbastown and Quetta where hundreds of shia muslims were killed en masse, sunni militant groups also regularly carry out individual assassinations of shia muslims across the country.

Victims of these "target killings" are often community leaders such as doctors, lawyers, and business owners. Hundreds of shias are assassinated each year, including women.

The significance of these gruesome assassinations transcend criminal activity; political support and willingness to legitimize militant groups such as the LeJ at the governmental level is indicative of early signs of genocide directed towards shia muslims in Pakistan. Only three days prior to the attack, an anti-shia event approved by municipal government took place in Islamabad. In attendance were banned terrorist groups responsible for shia killings, and provocation against shia muslims. Slogans such as “Shias are infidels” were shouted during the event.

These attacks, both on the massive and individual scale, are largely overlooked by government officials and within policy itself. The culture of shia killings in Pakistan has slowly approached that of indifference; perpetrators of this violence are virtually never caught nor tried for their crimes.

#NazimabadFour, a hashtag referencing the neighbourhood and area number of the attack's location, has commenced a campaign to protest shia killings in Pakistan. Tomorrow, November 4th, will mark a day of protest in Seattle, London, Chicago, and New York City outside of the Pakistani consulate against shia massacres in the country.

For further inquiry, tweet Zanab J.S. @zanabism