KARACHI: Members of Pakistan’s Shia Hazara community took to the streets in Pakistan’s southwestern city of Quetta and surrounding areas on Sunday to protest the execution of 11 coal miners as the government launched talks to convince angry protesters to end a sit-in.
Gunmen abducted a group of minority Hazara coal miners and killed 11 in southwestern Balochistan province early Sunday, Pakistani officials said. The Daesh group later claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement on its website. The militant group has repeatedly targeted Pakistan’s minority Shiites in recent years.
Families of the victims placed the dead bodies on a road connecting Quetta with Sukkar, but later moved the bodies to the provincial capital.
“We are in contact with the families and elders to persuade them to end the protest,” Liaquat Shahwani, spokesperson of the Balochistan government told Arab News, saying the chief minister had directed law enforcement agencies to ensure the the killers were arrested at the “earliest.”
Sunday’s violence has been condemned across the country with Prime Minister Imran Khan taking to Twitter to say the perpetrators would be taken to task and the affected families looked after.
The condemnable killing of 11 innocent coal miners in Machh Balochistan is yet another cowardly inhumane act of terrorism. Have asked the FC to use all resources to apprehend these killers & bring them to justice. The families of the victims will not be left abandoned by the govt
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) January 3, 2021
An official with the Levies Force, which serves as police and paramilitary in the area, told local media the gun attack took place near the remote Machh coal field, about 48 km east of the provincial capital Quetta.
Agha Syed Muhammad Raza, a senior leader of the Majlis-e-Wihdatul Muslimeen (MWM), a Shia political organization, said the victims had been blindfolded, with their arms and legs tied up, and were killed with knives.
Arab News could not independently verify this information.
Hafiz Abdul Basit, home secretary Balochistan, said seven of the victims of the attack were illegal Afghan migrants.
Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province is plagued by threats from several armed groups, including sectarian militant outfits who attack minorities, and separatist groups seeking independence for the province.
Quetta is home to roughly 600,000 Hazara Shias, largely confined to two fortified enclaves, and checkpoints manned by paramilitary personnel.