QUETTA: At least 19 people were killed and several injured Friday night when unknown militants opened fire at kidnapped passengers in Mastung area of Balochistan.
Earlier in the evening, suspected militants had abducted two passenger buses en route Karachi from Pishin.
Levies official Sanaullah, said miscreants stopped two passengers coaches at Khad Kucha area of Mastung.
He said the passengers were taken out from the coaches after which armed men opened fire at them.
In a statement, Balochistan Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti confirmed that 19 passengers had been killed by the militants.
So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the murders.
Soon after reports of abduction emerged, police and Frontier Corps officials rushed to the area and there were reports of heavy exchange of fire between security forces and the kidnappers.
The actual number of abducted passengers has not been confirmed yet. But sources estimate there were more than 20 passengers travelling in the two coaches.
The exchange of fire between security forces and militants is ongoing and the death toll from the tragedy is expected to rise, said officials.
Meanwhile, DCO Mastung claimed that 15 to 20 militants had abducted around 35 passengers.
Five passengers were released by militants, the Levies official said.
Traffic remains suspended on the Quetta-Karachi highway as transporters protest against the incident.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed grief over the loss of precious lives in Mastung. He extended condolences to the bereaved families and directed concerned authorities to apprehend the perpetrators of this heinous crime at the earliest.