8 Killed in Attack on Sufi Gathering
KARACHI, Pakistan — Gunmen threw grenades at a Sufi Islamic religious gathering on Sunday in the port city of Karachi and then opened fire on the people assembled to offer prayers, killing eight, officials said. Eight others were wounded in the attack, said Aftab Chanur, an official at a hospital where the injured were taken.
The four gunmen, who were on motorcycles, first lobbed grenades at a building where a Sufi cleric was receiving his followers, then raked it with automatic fire, said Javed Odho, a police official.
He said women and children were among the dead and wounded. Pakistan is 95 percent Muslim, and the majority are Sunnis.
Sufism is a mystical branch of Islam. But Sufi shrines and followers have come under attack from Sunni militants who do not consider them to be true Muslims.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack. But suspicion is likely to fall on the Pakistani Taliban or their affiliated sectarian groups, which follow a strict interpretation of Islam that considers many other Muslims, like Sufis or minority Shiites, to be heretics. In recent years, militants have often attacked shrines, which they consider to be sacrilegious.
In January, militants killed six people at the shrine of a Sufi saint in Karachi. After that attack, militants threatened the cleric whose gathering was attacked Sunday, telling him he should close down the house of worship where he receives his followers, Mr. Odho said.
Karachi is a fast-growing city in southern Pakistan with an estimated 18 million residents. It has often been plagued by political, religious and sectarian violence.
Correction: February 10, 2014
An earlier version of this article misidentified the branch of Islam practiced by the majority of people in Pakistan. Most are Sunnis, not Sufis.