QUETTA: At least seven people, including four members of the Shia Hazara community, were shot dead Monday in separate incidents of violence in Quetta, the capital of militancy-hit Balochistan province.
Gunmen opened fire at a vehicle in Quetta, killing four men belonging to the ethnic Shia Hazara community. In a separate incident later at night, gunmen on a motorcycle shot dead three and injured another person in the city’s Khudaidad Chowk area.
Fayyaz Sumbal, the Deputy Inspector General Police, told Dawn.com that four militants sprayed bullets on the four Hazara victims who were travelling in a vehicle on Masjid road area.
All four men sitting in the vehicle were seriously wounded and succumbed to their injuries on their way to the Combined Military Hospital, he said.
Capital City Police Officer Mir Zubair Mehmood confirmed that all four victims belonged to the Hazara Shia community. Mehmood said security had been tightened following the attack and that the number of personnel guarding all exit and entry points of Quetta city had been doubled.
Later on Monday, gunmen opened fire at a cold drink shop in Khudaidad Chowk area, seriously injuring five people.
The wounded were rushed to Civil Hospital, however, three of them succumbed to their injuries on their way.
Dozens of angry protesters blocked Jinnah Road outside Civil Hospital to protest the killings. They chanted slogans against the administration and demanded the arrests of the killers. A huge contingent of police was deployed around the hospital to maintain the order.
The Hazara Democratic Party and other Shia organisations have called for three days of mourning and a shutter-down strike on Tuesday in protest of the killings of the four Hazara men.
Quetta has witnessed a recent surge in incidents of violence, with sectarian militants repeatedly targeting the Hazara Shia community in several bombings and gun-attacks.
Monday’s incidents of firing come exactly two weeks after a deadly suicide bombing at a Quetta Imambargah killed 30 members of the minority community. The Lashkar-i-Jhangvi had claimed responsibility for the blast, one of a series of attacks this year by the sectarian outfit targeting the Hazaras.
‘Peace only solution to Balochistan’s problems’
Earlier on Monday, the provincial chief of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N), Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, termed the restoration of peace vital for prosperity of the militancy-hit province.
“Peace is the only panacea to all ills of Balochistan,” the senior provincial minister told a press conference at his residence.
Nawab Zehri said Balochistan’s problem was neither the construction of motorways nor development projects rather the worsening law and order problem was the first and foremost issue.
“Construction of motorways does not answer the problem of peace in the province,” he said.
The senior minister expressed serious concerns over the worsening law and order situation and vowed to work with allied parties for restoration of peace in Balochistan.
He said once the cabinet is formed then the allied political parties leaders would put their heads together to find an amicable solution to issues relating to the sparsely populated province of the country.