QUETTA: Seven people belonging to Hazara Shia community were shot dead on Saturday in the provincial metropolis, while numerous incidents of firing were reported after the killings in which two more people lost their lives, raising the death toll to nine.
After the bloody incident, the Balochistan government handed over powers of police to the Frontier Corps (FC) at Quetta for two months. Police said that unidentified armed men attacked seven members of the Hazara community with lethal automatic weapons when they were carrying vegetables from Hazarganji vegetable market to Hazara Town, at 8:15am, leaving all of them dead on the spot.
The bodies of the ill-fated deceased were shifted to BMC hospital. Emergency was declared in all the hospitals of Quetta soon after the incident.
Five of the deceased were identified as Nouroz Ali, Ali Baba, Jawad, Salman and Yousuf. On being informed, police officials and administration reached the spot and hospital.
Police record said that over 181 people have been killed in different firing incidents at Quetta since January 1, 2012. Of them 125 people were killed in various target killing incidents only in Quetta and Mastung districts of Balochistan.
A large number of the Hazara community members converged at the BMC Hospital. The gathering included political activists as well as students who blocked the Brewery Road in protest. They chanted slogans and demanded that the incumbent government immediately step down, terming the incident another failure of the government to control law and order in the province.
Hundreds of activists of the Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) staged the protest demonstration in the provincial capital and staged a sit-in in front of the IG Police Balochistan office on Gulistan Road. The protestors carried placards and banners and chanted slogans against the target killing incidents in Quetta and failure of police.
The incident created tension in the city as violent protests erupted and the shops were shut.
In the firing incidents, two persons including a policeman were killed and 10 others sustained injuries. Some of the injured also received stray bullets, police said.
Balochistan Governor Zulfiqar Magsi strongly condemned the incident and directed the arrest of the culprits involved in the killings. The politico-nationalist groups, including the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), strongly condemned the Quetta killings, and demanded the provincial government to provide security to the citizens.
Meanwhile, the Balochistan government issued a notification which stated that the FC was given police powers for two months in Quetta to maintain law and order. According to the notification, FC would act under the supervision of the civil administration and would follow the restrictions and conditions laid down in the code of criminal procedure 1898. The FC powers include section 46 to 49, 53, 54, 55 (A) and (C), 58, 63 to 67, 100 to 103 and 156 CrPC 1898, said the notification.
Agencies add: Chairman HDP Abdul Khaliq Hazara said that writ of the government doesn’t exist in Balochistan and innocent people were being targeted.
Chief of Hazara tribes Sardar Shahadat Hazara also condemned the incident and demanded the imposition of governor’s rule in the province to give protection to public life and property.
The Hazara community has given a shutter down strike call and called for protests across Balochistan today (Sunday).
Quaid-e-Millat Jaffria Pakistan and senior vice president of the Milli Yekjehti Council, Allama Syed Sajid Ali Naqvi strongly condemned the target killing of seven people in Quetta and announced a three-day mourning.
Meanwhile, two personnel of the Balochistan Constabulary (BC) were killed while another sustained injuries in firing in Panjgur district. “Mohammad Shafiq and Mohammad Tahir were targeted by the armed men riding a motorbike,” police said.