KARACHI: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan on Monday condemned the killing of 11 miners in the southwestern province of Balochistan, saying seven of them were Afghan citizens.
Gunmen abducted a group of minority Hazara Shia 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.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan strongly condemns the brutal killing of ten coal miners in Mach village of Bolan district of Pakistan's Balochistan province, seven of whom are Afghan citizens, and extends its condolences to the survivors and members," Kabul said in a statement.
The consulate general of Afghanistan in Quetta said it had contacted the families of the victims and Pakistani government officials to identify and receive bodies.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has instructed the Consulate General of Afghanistan in Quetta and the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Islamabad to provide all necessary assistance to the families of the victims," the statement said. "We will work with the Government of Pakistan to complete the investigation into this horrific crime, and we will pursue the matter until the perpetrators are identified and justice is served."
Families of the victims placed the dead bodies on a road connecting Quetta with Sukkar on Sunday, but later moved the bodies to the provincial capital.
Protests continued in Quetta, Lahore, Karachi, Multan and other cities on Monday, Pakistani media reported, while the government continued talks to convince angry protesters to call off demonstrations.
“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 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.
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.