UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was "appalled by the escalating terrorist violence in Pakistan", after 19 Shiite pilgrims died in a car bomb and 21 kidnapped soldiers were killed. Ban "condemns in particular the continued violent targeting of religious minorities", according to his spokesman Martin Nesirky. He "also strongly condemns the killing of 21 members of a government-backed tribal police force", after they were kidnapped near Peshawar in the troubled northwest of the country. "These cruel acts of violence cannot be justified by any cause or grievance." The pilgrims were killed on Sunday when a remotely-triggered car bomb in southwest Pakistan hit a convoy of three buses carrying about 180 Shiites to Iran. It was one of the deadliest attacks last year against Shiite Muslims, who make up 20 per cent of Pakistan's population. In the northwest, security forces were hunting the killers of the 21 soldiers whose bodies were discovered on Sunday not far from two camps outside Peshawar where they were kidnapped by the Taliban.