Conflict

Karachi Bus attack: low-intensity attacks increase risk to minority communities

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Omar Hamid is a former Pakistani government official and head of Asia-Pacific risk at IHS. He tweets @omarshamid
   
Sectarian militants reverting to low-intensity attacks increases risk of minority communities being targeted in Pakistan.
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On 13 May, militants attacked a bus filled with members of the Ismaili sect near Safoora Chowrangi in Pakistan’s Karachi. According to local media reports, the militants were armed with pistols and small-arms, but managed to kill 43 people on the bus. IHS sources claim that Islamist militant group Jundullah has claimed responsibility for the attack. There has been an increase in attacks in Karachi on “softer” or less well protected targets in the past few weeks. On 15 April, an American academic was shot and wounded by assailants, and on 25 April a renowned human rights activist was also targeted and killed by unknown assailants. On 9 May, a senior police officer belonging to the Shia community was murdered as well.
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The attack today is an indicator that Islamist and sectarian militant groups were increasingly likely to revert to lower intensity, high-value attacks against softer targets, that are not as well protected as larger, higher-profile targets such as embassies, government institutions, and security forces installations. This is due to the fact that the Pakistan Army’s operation in the Tribal Areas has disrupted logistical supply chains for militants, making it harder to launch more complex attacks involving suicide bombers or vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs). Therefore, groups such as Jundullah are moving toward perpetrating attacks such as the one today that involve minimal sophistication but are still likely to have a significant media impact.
 
For key takeaways and media from Omar Hamid’s discussion on Crime and Counterterrorism in Karachi, click here.

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