Gunmen kill 14 people after being taken off buses in Pakistan

Pakistan
File AFP

UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Gunmen killed at least 14 people after being forced to disembark from buses in Pakistan’s troubled Baluchistan province, officials said Thursday.

A group of Baloch separatists has adopted the “Baloch Republican Army” assault.

Twenty-five gunmen dressed in uniforms of the special border forces “stopped buses on the Makran highway and shot dead 14 people,” Interior Ministry director-general Haidar Ali told AFP.

He said the attackers had checked the identities of the passengers before they were killed, noting that all the victims were probably Pakistani.

Ali added that the passengers who were killed “were carrying identity not issued in Balochistan,” adding that among the dead were two officers, one in the Navy and the other in the Coast Guard.

In its adoption of the attack, a spokesman for the separatist group denied the killing of civilian passengers, stressing that the attackers did not target only the elements of the Coast Guard and navy.

Another official confirmed the attack and the toll of the victims.

The Interior Ministry said the buses were traveling between Karachi and the coastal city of Ormara in Balochistan, where the base of the Pakistani navy is located.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the massacre.

Balochistan, on the border with Afghanistan and Iran, is Pakistan’s largest and poorest province despite its hydrocarbons and mineral resources.

An unstable area. A separatist insurgency and Islamist violence have killed hundreds of people in recent years.

– “Economic Corridor” –

Pakistani security forces have been targeting rebels in the region since 2004 and have repeatedly faced accusations from international human rights organizations of abuses. But the army denies the charges.

“Such incidents are unacceptable and we will not tolerate the terrorists who committed this terrible attack,” Interior Minister Mir Zia Langov said in Balochistan.

At least 20 people were killed and 48 wounded last week in a suicide bombing by a branch of the Pakistani Taliban that apparently targeted the Shi’ite Hazara minority in a vegetable market in Balochistan.

Balochistan is an essential part of the Sino-Pakistani “economic corridor” in which Beijing is investing tens of billions of dollars to link Xinjiang province (west China) with the Gwadar port, which it built about 250 km west of Ormara.

As part of this project, many infrastructure will be built from highways, power stations and hospitals. The “economic corridor” of Chinese products will provide an outlet for the Arabian Sea.

This project poses a major challenge for Pakistan, especially in the security field, as many armed groups are active in a number of provinces, particularly Baluchistan.

At the end of November, four people were killed in an attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi by gunmen. The attack was adopted by Baloch separatists.

Violence in Pakistan has fallen sharply since the bloodiest attack on a school in Peshawar (northwest) in 2014 that killed more than 150 people, most of them children.

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