Islamabad, April 18: Gunmen ambushed a bus in the Makran Coastal Highway in Ormara area of Balochistan and shot dead 14 passengers early on Thursday, local and international media reported. It was unclear who was behind the shooting.
Reports quoting Levies force sources said armed assailants in camouflage uniform reportedly stopped five or six buses travelling between Karachi and Gwadar. The assailants reportedly entered one of the buses, demanded to check everyone’s identity cards, forcibly offloaded them from the bus and then shot dead them. While two passengers managed to escape the massacre and made it to the nearest Levies checkpost. They were shifted to Ormara Hospital for treatment.
According to Balochistan Inspector General of Police Mohsin Hassan Butt, around 15 to 20 armed assailants stopped five or six buses travelling between Karachi and Gwadar. Balochistan Home Secretary Haider Ali told AFP that the assailants were wearing Frontier Corps uniforms.
In the Buzi Top area, between 12:30am and 1am, the gunmen stopped a bus, checked the identity cards of passengers and offloaded about 16 of them, the IGP said. A local official, Jehangir Dashti, said some three dozen people were travelling in the bus.
IGP Butt explained that it was a “targeted killing”. The victims were identified via their CNICs and shot at close range, he said.
A naval official and a coast guard member were among those killed, the home secretary said.
Levies and other law enforcement personnel reached the spot and launched an investigation. The bodies of the victims were recovered from Noor Bakhsh Hotel.
The motive behind the killings and the identity of the victims are yet to be ascertained.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the violence, but the area has had sporadic unrest from Baloch separatists, who are known to target the security services and people from other provinces.
The Baloch insurgents claim that the government does not evenly distribute the region’s resources. There are also Islamist extremists active in the area, who have launched attacks on minority Shiite Muslims in the past. On April 12, at least 25 people including Hazara people were killed in a market bomb blast.
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 saw a terror attack targeting the Hazara community in Quetta which left at least 25 dead.–AFP/AP/Dawn