At least nine people were killed and 27 were injured on Friday, in Quetta in Pakistan's Balochistan province, when gunmen fired at a vehicle carrying a politician while it was passing a group of people exiting a mosque after prayers on the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of Ramadan -- the holiest month in the Muslim calendar.
The shooting comes a day after a suicide bombing at the police headquarters in Quetta, which killed 37 people -- most of them senior police officers -- and wounded another 45 people.
"Four gunmen opened fire when people were coming out of the mosque after saying Eid prayers," Bashir Ahmad Brohi, a senior police official told Agence France-Presse.
The attack was aimed at a former provincial minister, Ali Mohammad Jattack, as his vehicle passed by, and not the mosque, Brohi told Reuters.
"The majority of the injured faithful were coming from the mosque," said Brohi. "It was an armed attack on the former minister ... it was not an attack on the mosque."
The attacks follow worldwide alerts issued by the U.S., which have warned about possible terror attacks based on its intercepts of communications between al-Qaeda operatives. The U.S. last week closed its diplomatic missions in 19 countries in the Middle East and Africa.
And, on Thursday, the U.S. ordered all non-emergency staff to leave its consulate in Lahore, which lies about 600 miles east of Quetta, citing specific threats to its diplomatic missions in the country, and warned its citizens to defer “all non-essential travel to Pakistan.”
Violence has escalated in Pakistan since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took office two months ago. During the election campaign, Sharif’s party had promised to reopen negotiations with various militant groups in the country, including with the Pakistani Taliban, which claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attacks.
But, so far, the government has reportedly failed to make any headway in bringing militants to the negotiation table.