QUETTA: On Thursday early morning, at least 14 passengers were offloaded from a passenger bus on Makran Coastal Highway and shot dead by unidentified gunmen, said Levies sources.
According to sources, the armed men stopped the bus and offloaded some of the passengers after asking for their identities.”After scanning their identities and offloading, the gunmen shot dead 14 passengers.”
The bodies were shifted to a nearby health facility in Ormara.
According to Balochistan’s Inspector General of Police Mohsin Hassan Butt, 15-20 unidentified armed assailants in camouflage were involved in the attack. Provincial Home Secretary Haider Ali told AFP that the assailants had been wearing clothes that resembled Frontier Corps uniforms.
The gunmen stopped a bus travelling between Karachi and Gawadar, checked the identity cards of the passengers and offloaded 16 of them, the IGP said. According to a local official, some three dozen people in total had been travelling on the bus.
Fourteen of those offloaded were shot dead, while two passengers managed to escape and made it alive to the nearest Levies checkpost. They were subsequently shifted to Ormara Hospital for treatment. The bodies of the victims were recovered from Noor Baksh Hotel.
One navy and one coast guard personnel were among those killed, the home secretary confirmed.
Levies and other law enforcement personnel later secured the spot and launched an investigation into the incident.
The motive behind the killings and the identity of the victims are yet to be disclosed. No one has claimed responsibility for the killings.
Home Minister Zia Langove told AFP that a full-scale investigation had been launched into the attack and to track down the gunmen, who had fled the scene.
“Such incidents are intolerable and we will not spare the terrorists who carried out this dastardly attack,” he said.
A similar incident took place in Balochistan’s Mastung area in 2015, when armed men kidnapped about two dozen passengers from two Karachi-bound coaches and killed at least 19 of them in the mountainous area of Khad Kocha.
Within the past week, Balochistan has seen a terror attack targeting the Hazara community in Quetta which left at least 20 killed, and a blast in Chaman which targeted security forces.
CM condemns attack, offers condolences
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 people of Balochistan look upon terrorists who follow the agenda of foreign elements with hate,” he said. “Through the support of the people, terrorism will be eliminated and the terrorists will continue to be brought to justice.”
Prime Minster Imran Khan condemned the killings in a statement from his office and expressed his condolences for the victims’ families.
“The prime minister has sought a report into the incident,” a PM Office statement said, according to APP.
“He directed the authorities concerned to make every possible effort to identify and bring the perpetrators of the barbaric act to justice. The prime minister also expressed his sympathies with the bereaved families of the victims.”
President Dr Arif Alvi also condemned the “cowardly terrorist attack”.
He expressed profound grief and sorrow over the loss of precious human lives in the incident, according to a statement issued by the Aiwan-e-Sadr.
The president prayed for eternal peace of the departed souls and forbearance of the bereaved families.
He emphasized that “such cowardly attempts to spread disunity in the country could never succeed”. He said “the nation was united and steadfast in its fight against terrorism”.
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif in his condemnation statement said that “the killers of innocent people have nothing to do with humanity”. He said that coordinated terrorist attacks in the country are hinting at the involvement of the enemies of Pakistan.