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Sectarian violence in Pakistan escalates

Gunmen opened fire and killed three people, including a senior military official.

Gunmen opened fire and killed three people, including a senior military official from Shi’ites minority. Picture: AFP.

MULTAN Pakistan - Gunmen have killed three people, including a senior military official, at a mosque frequented by minority Shia worshippers in the Pakistani city of Sargodha, police said on Monday.

Sectarian strife has been worsening in Pakistan, where Shias make up about 20 percent of the 180 million population.

Sunni Muslims frequently attack Shias they see as infidels who deserve to die.

"Brigadier Fazal Zahoor was shot by masked gunmen while taking part in a religious ritual at the mosque," said police official Farooq Hasnaat, adding the attack took place late on Sunday.

"The gunmen arrived on motorbikes and burst into the mosque. They identified the brigadier and shot and killed him, his brother Fazal Subhani and a third man called Mohammad Ayub."

The mosque is located in a military cantonment.

Hasnaat said the brigadier had received threats from the banned organisation Sipah-e-Sahaba, which says it want to expel Shias from Pakistan.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack.

More than 800 Shias have been killed in targeted attacks in Pakistan since the start of 2012, according to Human Rights Watch.

Militant groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi say they are fighting for a Sunni Muslim theocracy and Shias should leave the country or be killed.