ISLAMABAD – Authorities in southwestern Pakistan said Sunday that unknown gunmen had kidnapped and killed 11 coal mine workers.
The deadly overnight attack took place in the town of Machh in Baluchistan province, 50 kilometers southeast of Quetta, the provincial capital.
Local officials confirmed that several miners were also seriously injured and being treated in a local hospital.
A post-attack mobile video VOA received showed the slain workers were blindfolded with their hands tied behind their backs. The victims were said to be members of the minority Hazara Shi’ite community, which has come under attack from extremists in the past.
Islamic State said its Pakistan branch executed the ethnic Hazara men. The Islamic State group has targeted Shi’ite Muslims, their shrines and places of worship in countries where the terror organization has its loyalists. Additionally, Islamic State militants in recent months have carried out major attacks against the Hazara community in Afghanistan, killing scores of people.
Provincial government spokesman Liaquat Shahwani said Pakistani police and paramilitary forces were searching for the assailants.
The incident outraged Hazaras who took to the streets in protest and blocked a main highway linking Quetta with other cities. They placed bodies of the victims on the road to demand justice and security.
The Persian-speaking Hazara community emigrated from neighboring Afghanistan more than a century ago and are settled in parts of Quetta.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan denounced the attack as a “cowardly inhuman act” of terrorism and directed authorities to bring those responsible to justice.
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
Baluchistan often experiences attacks on security forces and people working on development projects.
Authorities blame the violence on separatist Baluch insurgents and other extremist groups operating in the natural resource-rich Pakistani province.
Last week, militants raided a security outpost in the remote Harnai district of Baluchistan, killing at least seven paramilitary soldiers and wounding several others.
Pakistan alleges Baluch separatists are being backed and funded by rival India, charges the neighboring country denies.