Gunmen killed at least 14 people after forcing them to disembark from buses in Pakistan’s Balochistan, officials said yesterday, in the latest attack claimed by separatists in the southwestern province.
The attackers, who numbered about two dozen, were wearing uniforms of the paramilitary Frontier Corps, Balochistan Home Secretary Haider Ali said.
They “stopped buses on the Makran Coastal Highway and gunned down 14 people,” he said, adding that the four vehicles were traveling to Karachi from the coastal town of Ormara.
The gunmen identified non-Baloch passengers by their identity cards and shot them, he said.
All the victims are believed to be Pakistani, with a naval official and a coast guard member among the dead.
The attack was claimed by a Baloch separatist group. A militant spokesman denied that any civilian passengers had been killed and said that the group had only targeted coast guard and navy service members.
Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran, is Pakistan’s poorest province and the largest by landmass, with active Islamic and ethnic Baloch separatists.
Pakistani security forces have been targeting insurgents in the province since 2004, and have also been repeatedly accused by international rights groups of abuses there. The military denies the allegations.
Balochistan Home Minister Mir Zia Langov said that a full-scale investigation had been launched into the attack and authorities are trying to track down the gunmen, who had fled the scene.
Pakistani Prime Minster Imran Khan also condemned the killings in a statement from his office.
The attack came less than a week after a suicide blast claimed by the Islamic State group in the provincial capital Quetta killed 20 people.
Balochistan is also host to a number of major projects under the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The massive infrastructure project seeks to connect China’s Xinjiang with the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar in Balochistan.
However, it has also drawn its share of attacks, particularly by separatists who have long complained that residents do not receive a fair share of profits from the province’s resources.
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