QUETTA: Unidentified armed men killed eight members of the ethnic Hazara community and injured six others in the Hazar Ganji area of Quetta, the capital of the volatile Balochistan province, on Thursday morning.

Imran Qureshi, a senior police officer told Dawn that the armed men opened fire at a Mazda bus and killed eight members of the Hazara community.

"The assailants sprayed bullets over the bus and managed to escape unhurt from the spot," Qureshi said.

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The bodies were brought to the Bolan Medical Complex hospital where a large number of people had gathered. Qureshi said initially six people had been killed, however, two more succumbed to injuries on way to the hospital.

"This is an act of targeted killing," he said.

Panic prevailed among locals after the killings.

The predominantly Shia community whose members stand out on account of their Central Asian features has come under increasing attacks by extremist groups such as the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ).

Estimates provided by Tahir Hussain Khan, president of the Balochistan chapter of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan(HRCP), earlier this month show that the violence has driven as many as 200,000 Hazaras to relocate to other major cities of Pakistan or move abroad.

HDP calls for strike in Quetta, MWM announces three-day mourning

The Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) has announced shutter down in Quetta on Friday (tomorrow) to mourn the killings of the eight.

In a statement issued by the HDP, the party lashed out at the provincial government and law enforcement agencies over their failure to protect Hazaras Shias in the city.

"Under a pre-planned conspiracy, our people are being targeted,” the statement said.

The Majlis-i-Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM) has also announced three days of mourning over today’s killings.

It has moreover criticised the government and law enforcement agencies for their failure to protect citizens.

More on this: HRCP reports exodus of minorities from Balochistan

PM takes notice of attack, orders probe, arrests

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took notice of today’s incident and directed the interior secretary to mobilise security agencies and ensure the arrests of those responsible.

The premier ordered that swift and stern action is taken to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The prime minister moreover directed the interior secretary to file an official report following a thorough investigation of the incident.