BY STAFF REPORT
–Baloch insurgents claim responsibility for attack, claim they targetted navy, coast guard personnel
–Media reports claim 9 Pakistan Navy men among those gunned down after being identified through IDs
QUETTA: At least 14 people were killed in an ambush on several buses travelling between Karachi and Gwadar in the remote Ormara area of Balochistan province on Thursday.
According to reports, the unidentified assailants intercepted the buses in Buzi Top area on the Coastal Highway around midnight and offloaded 16 of the three dozens people, after checking their identity cards.
The attack took place as the bus was traveling on the Makran coastal highway between the port city of Karachi and the Gwadar port in the southwest, local official Jehangir Dashti told The Associated Press.
Dashti said the passengers targeted in the attack were killed after the assailants checked their identity cards but he could not confirm if all the slain were Punjabis.
The travellers were removed from the buses and taken to a second location, where they were shot dead, early on Thursday morning, said Balochistan Information Minister Zahoor Buledi.
“They identified non-Baloch by checking their identity cards and employee cards,” said Buledi. “They took them to the nearby mountains and shot them dead after tying their hands.”
“Dozens of gunmen” were involved in the attack and fled the scene afterward, Dashti said.
“In this tragic incident, 14 passengers were forced off the bus, they were lined up in a nearby open area and killed by the terrorists,” he said.
The Pakistani Navy said its sailors and officers who were travelling to work were also among the slain men. One was a member of the country’s coast guard.
Intelligence officials told AP, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to the media, nine employees of the Navy were among the dead.
The bodies were shifted to Ormara Hospital for medico-legal formalities.
Security forces from the nearby town of Buzi Top were dispatched and had reached the area, about 600 kilometers (375 miles) from the provincial capital, Quetta, he added.
BRAS TAKES CREDIT:
The Baloch Raaji Aajoi Sangar (BRAS), an alliance of armed ethnic Baloch separatist groups, claimed responsibility for the attack in an emailed statement released on Thursday.
“Those who were targeted carried [identification] cards of the Pakistan Navy and Coast Guards, and they were only killed after they were identified,” said Baloch Khan, a BRAS spokesperson.
The Baloch Raji Ajoi Sangar (BRAS), an alliance of three Balochi separatist organisations, including the Baloch Liberation Army, Balochistan Liberation Front and Baloch Republican Guard.
However, Buledi told AlJazeera that the government could not immediately confirm whether those killed were members of the security forces.
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.
Prime Minister Imran Khan strongly condemned the dastardly act of terrorism took place in Buzi Top area of Balochistan at Makran Coastal Highway targeting innocent people.
The prime minister sought solicited report into the incident, a PM Office statement said.
He directed the authorities concerned to make every possible effort to identify and bring the perpetrators of the barbaric act to justice.
The prime minister also expressed his sympathies with the bereaved families of the victims.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also condemned the incident and said that the government has failed to control the terrorists from executing their terror bids across the country.
In his statement, Bilawal slashed the PTI government and said that the terror attack once again claimed lives of innocents inside Balochistan’s territory.
He demanded the government to bring the masterminds behind these terror attack under the grip of the law.