QUETTA – Gunmen killed five people after storming two tea shops belonging to the Hazara community in Quetta on Sunday reported news agencies.
“Two gunmen, one each, stormed two tea shops belonging to the Hazara community in the Meezan Chowk neighbourhood of the city and started indiscriminate firing,” local police official Muhammad Tariq told AFP.
Abdul Razzaq Cheema, city police chief, confirmed the incident and said the attack was sectarian in nature.
“The assailants fled on a motorbike after spraying bullets in the tea shops, police are searching for the suspects,” he said.
Four of the injured died on the spot while one breathed his on way to the Civil Hospital.
Bodies of the deceased were shifted to Civil Hospital and Combined Military Hospital.
They have been identified as Mohammad Ali, Mohammad Idrees, Kazim, Zeeshan and Nematullah.
Police said the assailants managed to escape from the scene.
Soon after the incident, markets and business establishments were closed and panic gripped the area.
Traffic vanished from the roads.
Police and personnel of Frontier Corps (FC) were called to the area to bring the situation under control.
Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Malik Baloch strongly condemned the incident and directed the police to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“Strict action will be taken against the elements involved in the target killing,” he said.
The chief minister expressed sympathy with the bereaved families and promised all possible help to them.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility following the attack.
In the past few days, more than half a dozen Hazaras were also shot dead down in Quetta.
Later, around 500 people from the community took to the streets in protest against the incident carrying the coffins of the deceased and refusing to bury them.
About 500 protesters placed the coffins of the victims on the road and chanted slogans against the government for failing to protect them.
“We are facing a genocide and the government makes only empty promises instead of providing protection,” Husnain Ali, a protester in his early 20s, told AFP.
He said he would sit on the road with the dead bodies until the perpetrators are arrested.
On Saturday, armed men on motorcycles also killed four policemen in the Pashtunabad area of Quetta.
PM SEEKS REPORT
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the firing incident in Quetta.
The prime minister sought a report over the incident and asked authorities to apprehend the criminals at the earliest.
He also extended his condolences to the bereaved families.
Sectarian violence has claimed thousands of lives in the country over the past decade.
In the latest bloodshed, 45 Ismailis were massacred in Karachi in May in the first attack in the country claimed by the Islamic State group.
Meanwhile, Quetta police on Sunday detained a number of suspects during a search operation from Satellite Town and Pastoonabad area of the City.
According to police, teams conducted search operation in these locations and took into custody as many as 33 suspects during the search operation carried out in the wake of Pastoonabad firing incident leaving four police officials including a sub-inspector killed on Saturday.
Police also recovered computers and other digital gadgets from the detained suspects.
“They will be interrogated by joint investigation teams and would be released if proved innocent”, police said and added more search operations are on the cards in the outskirts of the provincial capital to clear sanctuaries of criminals and outlaws.
Meanwhile, FIR of Pashtoonabad firing incident was registered against unidentified armed assailants at Police Station Pashtoon.
SHO Pastoonabad Tayab-ur-Rehman got the case registered of the incident that left his four colleagues including a sub-inspector and three constables killed in the firing.
FOUR TRUCK DRIVERS KIDNAPPED IN DMJ
Gunmen kidnapped four truck drivers from Dera Murad Jamali on Sunday leaving the vehicles they were driving by roadside.
Reacting over the kidnapping, the truck drivers union staged a protest demonstration and blocked the Sindh-Balochistan Highway against the incident, besides demanding early and safe recovery of kidnapped drivers and arresting the culprits.
Traffic remained suspended for several hours due to protest and long queues of vehicles were witnessed on both sides of the road.
The police and administration officials later reached the scene, assured the protesters of recovery of the abducted drivers after which they dispersed peacefully.
Meanwhile, security forces killed 3 terrorists and destroyed their numerous hideouts during a search operation conducted in mountains of Johan, 45 km from Mastung.
The terrorists were killed during an exchange of fire between the security forces and the terrorists.
According to reports, as many as eight helicopters took part in the operation in which three hideouts and depots of arms and ammunition were also destroyed.
The forces have stepped up the operation against militants after over 20 people were killed when armed men attacked two Karachi-bound passenger coaches arriving from Quetta near Mastung on May 30.