Unidentified gunmen kill seven in Balochistan

Islamabad: Unidentified gunmen today shot dead five members of the minority Shia community and two employees of an NGO in the restive Balochistan province of southwest Pakistan, police said. Gunmen riding a motorcycle opened fire at a van in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, killing five persons, police and doctors said. Shia groups said all those killed belonged to the minority community and described the attack as an incident of target killing.

Police said the slain persons were heading to work when the van was attacked at Spini Road. Doctors said a woman was among those killed in the incident. Police said six persons were injured in the attack. They were shifted to two hospitals in Quetta. At least one of the injured was in a critical condition, doctors said. The gunmen fled after the attack. No group claimed responsibility for the incident. Police officials said they suspected the involvement of extremist groups.

In a separate incident, gunmen attacked the vehicle of a local NGO in Mastung district and killed two of its employees, police said. The motive behind the attack could not immediately be ascertained. No group claimed responsibility for the attack. Following the attack on the Shias in Quetta, angry people took to the streets and staged a demonstration on the busy Barori Road. The protesters blocked traffic on the road.

The protestors shouted slogans against the government and police for failing to prevent target attacks. Two Shia groups announced three days of mourning to condemn the attack. The Tahafuz Azadari Council and Hazara Democratic Party also called for a strike in Quetta on Friday and warned of more protests if the killers were not arrested. Balochistan has been rocked by a wave of sectarian and targeted killings in recent months.