ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Suspected militants in northwest Pakistan forced passengers to step out of three buses and shot dead 22 of them in an apparent sectarian attack on Thursday, officials said.
The officials said about 15 armed men wearing army uniforms checked the identification cards of the passengers and then opened fire after learning they were Shi'ites.
"It is confirmed at least 22 people are dead," said a senior police official.
Pakistan is a majority Sunni Muslim state, and most Sunnis and Shi'ites live peacefully together. But the country has a long history of sectarian attacks by extremists on both sides.
Sunni militant groups inspired by al Qaeda often attack religious minorities such as Shi'ites in Pakistan, a strategic U.S. ally facing a Taliban insurgency.
The director of police in the northwestern city of Gilgit, Ali Sher, said the buses were stopped at dawn in the Lulusar area, which lies below mountains.
(Reporting by Jibran Ahmad in PESHAWAR and Sheree Sardar in ISLAMABAD; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)