Unidentified gunmen donning uniforms of paramilitary personnel on Thursday (April 18) shot dead at least 14 passengers after forcing them to disembark from buses on a highway in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province, in the latest targeted killing in the country.
Around 15 to 20 gunmen stopped five to six buses travelling between Karachi and Gwadar. They stopped the buses on the Makran Coastal Highway in Balochistan’s Ormara area, checked their identity cards and offloaded them before shooting them dead, police said.
Balochistan Inspector General of Police Mohsin Hassan Butt said around 15 to 20 unidentified gunmen wearing uniforms of paramilitary Frontier Corps were involved in the attack carried out early morning at Buzi Top area.
“A total of 16 people were offloaded and 14 killed while two managed to escape,” the officer said.
Balochistan Home Minister Zia Langove told the media that the attackers used their fatigue as a disguise to carry out a routine check on the passengers. “We have launched a probe to identify and arrest the attackers,” he said, adding that the deceased have not been identified.
Balochistan chief minister Jam Kamal condemned the incident and offered his condolences to the victims families. “These cowardly terrorists showed the extent of their barbarism by murdering innocent passengers,” the chief minister said.
He described the attack as a conspiracy to halt progress in Balochistan and tarnish the country’s image, and assured that “progress will continue no matter what”.
The motive behind the killings is yet to be ascertained and no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran, is Pakistan’s largest and poorest province, rife with ethnic, sectarian and separatist insurgencies.
In the past, minority Shia Muslims and ethnic workers from the Punjab province have been targeted in such attacks. An ISIS suicide attack targeting Hazara Shias in the provincial capital of Quetta last week killed 21 people and injured 60 others.
Armed gunmen kidnapped about two dozen passengers from two Karachi-bound coaches from Balochistans Mastung area in 2015, killing at least 19 of them in the mountainous area of Khad Kocha.