Two Shi'a Killed, One Wounded In Quetta 'Target' Attack

Gunmen have killed two Shi'a and wounded a third in southwestern Pakistan in the latest attack on the religious minority, officials say.

Police said three Shi'ite men were travelling together on the outskirts of Balochistan Province's capital, Quetta, on April 22 when attackers on a motorcycle opened fire on them.

"It is a sectarian target killing," said senior police officer Syed Attaullah Shah.

Quetta police chief Abdur Razzaq Cheema said the attackers fled the scene following the shooting and that a search was under way.

Cheema said both deceased men, identified as Ali Raza and Syed Zaman, were local officials in Shi'ite community organizations.

The extremist group Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility in a statement carried by its Amaq news agency.

Pakistan's Shi'ite Muslim community is frequently targeted by Sunni extremists who consider Shi'a apostates.

In a report issued on April 16, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said the country had failed to make progress on several issues over the past year, including on protection of religious minorities.

The report said that religious minorities continued to be targeted by extremists, citing attacks on Shi'a, Christians falsely accused of blasphemy against Islam, and members of the Ahmedi sect.

Last month, a report released by Pakistan's National Commission for Human Rights said that 509 members of the country's Hazara community, most of whom are Shi'a, were killed and 627 injured in terror-related incidents in Quetta during the last five years.

Resource-rich Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran, has been plagued by sectarian violence, Islamist militant attacks, and a separatist insurgency that has led to thousands of casualties since 2004.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and Dawn