QUETTA: The atmosphere in Balochistan province turned tense Thursday as angry demonstrations were held protesting the killings of five Hazara Shias, in what police described as the latest sectarian attack in the volatile southwest province.
Enraged protestors resorted to arson and destruction of public property in many areas. A motor-cycle was torched outside the PMC and business centres and market shut down after the attack.
Angry Shia protesters shot dead a policeman in the Hazara Town neighbourhood of Quetta, where police tried to break up a road block erected by a mob, local police station chief Ameer Mohammad Dasti told AFP.
“Some protesters fired in the air in anger and one of the bullets wounded a policeman, who was taken to hospital but died,” Dasti said.
Dozens of other Shia muslims also demonstrated in Quetta’s main Meezan Chowk square and outside the provincial police chief’s office, witnesses said.
The Hazara Democratic Party condemned the attack and announced a ‘shutter down’ strike call for Friday, 30th March.
Eight people lost their lives in separate incidents of firing by unidentified armed men in the province on Thursday.
The first attack took place in Kali Mubarak area near Spini road, Quetta, where five people including a woman were killed and six people were injured, when some unknown armed men opened fire.
According to police sources, a Suzuki pick up was on its way to the city, from Hazara town when it was ambushed by armed gunmen on Spini Road near Kali Mubarak. The indiscriminate firing killed two on the spot, while three of the injured lost their lives on their way to the Combined Military Hospital. The condition of three other injured was also believed to be critical.
The victims belonged to the minority Shia Hazara ethnicity.
The second attack took place in Mastung district of Balochistan, where the vehicle of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization came under attack.
The gunmen opened fire on the UN staff as they were riding in a car through Mastung district, killing two people, said police officer Rustam Khan.
“A driver and a staff member of FAO were killed and another staffer wounded after gunmen fired at their vehicle,” police official Shakir Ullah told AFP.
It was not immediately clear why they were targeted and so far no one has claimed responsibility, he said.
The two killed included a member of the group’s project staff and a hired driver, said a UN official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. Another staff member was wounded, he said.
The injured was shifted to Civil Hospital Mastung and was said to be in critical condition.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.