QUETTA (Pakistan) • Unidentified gunmen killed 14 people in southwestern Pakistan after pulling them from several passenger buses, sifting through their identity cards and kidnapping them, a Pakistani official said yesterday.
A Baloch insurgent group claimed responsibility in a statement e-mailed to reporters and newspapers.
Fighters of Baloch Raji Aajoi Saangar carried out the killings, said the group, describing itself as an umbrella body of three Baloch separatist movements in the region. It denied ordinary passengers had been targeted.
"Those who were targeted carried cards of the Pakistan navy and coast guards, and they were killed only after they were identified," the group's spokesman Baloch Khan said in the statement.
The passengers were travelling on a coastal highway from the financial hub of Karachi towards Gwadar, the Arabian Sea port town where China is building a deep-water port.
Balochistan Home Minister Ziaullah Langove said the dead passengers had their legs and hands tied and were found close to the town of Ormara, halfway between Karachi and Gwadar.
"Terrorists offloaded 14 persons from different buses after checking their NICs. They took them and killed them," Mr Langove said, referring to Pakistani national identity cards.
Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the attack and asked for an urgent report.
"(The) PM has directed the authorities to make every possible effort to identify and to bring the perpetrators of the barbaric act to justice," Mr Khan's office said in a statement.
The south-western Balochistan province has long been plagued by violence and a stubborn insurgency, with several separatist groups and Islamist militants operating in a region boasting vast gas and mineral resources.
Security has improved considerably across much of Pakistan in recent years, but Balochistan is still plagued by attacks, a major source of concern for Pakistani and Chinese officials who fear it will disrupt plans for a transport corridor through the province as part of China's Belt and Road Initiative.