QUETTA: In a fresh wave of target killings, six people were killed on Thursday morning after unidentified gunmen ambushed their vehicle on the Spini Road, triggering a wave of violent protests across the provincial capital which claimed another two lives.
According to police reports, over a dozen people belonging to the Hazara community were on their way from the Hazara Town to Quetta when their vehicle was attacked by unidentified armed men. According to eyewitness accounts, the van’s assailants sprayed the passengers with bullets from lethal automatic weapons. A total of 10 people were critically injured, six of them succumbing to their wounds on their way to the Bolan Medical Complex Hospital.
Reports suggest that the assailants had already taken their positions on the Spini Road when the vehicle — carrying over a dozen passengers ñ reached the site at around 8:15am. The attack was so sudden and intense that the victims did not have the time to retaliate. The van’s attackers fled from the scene after their killing spree.
On being informed, police officials and administration reached the scene of incident and shifted the injured to the Bolan Medical Complex Hospital, Civil Hospital and CMH. Some of the injured succumbed to their injuries on their way to various hospitals.
The fatalities, which included a woman, were identified as Alam, Ghulam Sakhi, Bakhat Jamal Khatoon, Zafar Ali, Mubarak and Khalid Hussian. The injured were shifted to the CMH for medical treatment, where their condition remains precarious. Police officials termed the attack as target killing, and an investigation was launched immediately after the incident.
Soon after the attack, hundreds of people belonging to the Hazara community reached the hospital, as the provincial capital was gripped by tension following the bloody encounter. Office bearers and activists of the Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) strongly protested against the incident, staging demonstrations in different parts of the city ñ namely Manan Chowk, Mezan Chowk, Jinnah Road and Brewery Road. Demonstrators burnt tires and demanded swift arrest of the culprits involved in the killings.
The Hazara Democratic Party, along with the Pashtunkhwa Milli-Awami Party (PkMAP), called for a complete shutterdown strike for today (Friday) in their separate press statements, while nearly all Pakhtun and Baloch nationalist groups, including the ANP, JWP, BNP and Anjuman Tajiran Balochistan, supported the strike call.
Soon after the incident, aerial firing kicked off in different localities of the city and two persons, policeman Hakim Zaman and a female resident, were killed when they were struck by stray bullets in the Brewery area.
The angry mob also set ablaze a police check-post and a motorcycle in Faisal Town, smashed the windowpanes of dozens of vehicles and even ransacked a commercial college, in addition to damaging streets lights in the Brewery area. The police were forced to resort to the use of tear gas and baton charge in the Brewery area to disperse the angry crowd. According to police statements, 10 people have been arrested on account of damaging and ransacking various shops.
Governor Balochistan Nawab Zulfikar Ali Magsi and Chief Minister Nawab Muhammad Aslam Raisani in their separate condolence messages strongly condemned the target killing incident and expressed their deep concerns over the murderous act.
Meanwhile, in another incident of target killing in Mastung, a city 40 kms south of Quetta, two employees of an international organisation ñ the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) ñ were killed, while the third one was injured when unknown armed men attacked their vehicle. The victims sustained multiple bullet injuries and two of them died on the spot. The deceased were identified as Habib and Zahid. The injured person was shifted to the Civil Hospital, Mastung, for treatment. Further investigations are in progress.