Friday, February 27, 2009

Shiite school children killed and abducted in Pakistan



PESHAWAR: Gunmen on Friday ambushed a minibus carrying children to school in northwest Pakistan, killing the driver, wounding two children and apparently kidnapping six others, police said. 'Unknown gunmen fired at the school van carrying Shia students,' local police station chief Saeed Khan said. — AFP

The bus was ambushed outside the town of Hangu in the country's troubled North West Frontier Province, which borders Afghanistan and is plagued by sectarian violence as well as Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked militants.

'Unknown gunmen fired at the school van carrying Shia students. The driver was killed, two children were injured, while six appear to have been kidnapped by the attackers,' local police station chief Saeed Khan told AFP.

'Police are searching for the attackers in the nearby mountains,' he added, saying he had no further details about the missing students.

Hangu, which has been a flashpoint for sectarian violence in the past, is located about 175 kilometres west of Islamabad.

Shia and Sunni Muslim groups signed a peace accord in Hangu last month after days of sectarian clashes in which at least nine people were killed.

Shias account for about 20 per cent of Pakistan's 160-million-strong, Sunni-majority population.

The groups usually coexist peacefully but outbreaks of sectarian violence have claimed more than 4,000 lives across Pakistan since the late 1980s.

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