QUETTA, Nov 2: At least 18 people were killed and five others injured when a bus was attacked by gunmen on the outskirts of Khuzdar on Friday.

The attack on the bus which was at a fuel station ignited petrol drums which caused a massive blaze that claimed most of the lives.

According to District Police Officer Fasihuddin, the bus had stopped at the station for refuelling when it came under attack. The fire also engulfed adjoining shops and other vehicles.

The dead included eight women and four children.

Passengers who suffered burn injuries were admitted to hospital. A woman who was in a serious condition was taken to Karachi.

Some of the deceased who were identified are Dawood, Rehan, Waris, Haji Mohammad, Yasir, Reza Mohammad, Gul Bano, Hureen, Rashida, Kulsoom Bibi and Khatoon Bibi.

Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani called the Khuzdar deputy commissioner and sought a report.

According to a statement issued here, the chief minister expressed displeasure over growing lawlessness in the district and directed the provincial home secretary and Inspector General of Police to visit the city.

AFP adds: Senior local official Abdul Mansoor Kakar said four gunmen had opened fire on the van with automatic rifles.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

A number of stalls selling petrol smuggled from Iran were engulfed in the fire, Mr Kakar said, with stallholders among the dead.

“Four attackers riding motorbikes opened fire on these petrol stalls and ran away after the attack,” he said.

Dr Akbar Harifal, the top administrative official in Khuzdar, confirmed the death toll.

Eleven of the 18 bodies have been identified, Mr Kakar said, but hospital officials reported that some were burned so badly that recognition was difficult.

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