QUETTA: Gunmen killed 20 construction workers and injured three others in a pre-dawn attack on a labourers’ camp near Turbat, in Balochistan’s Kech district, on Saturday.
“The labourers were sleeping in the camp when it was stormed by the assailants,” Balochistan Home Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani told Dawn.
“Around 50 armed men riding two pickups and motorcycles descended on the camp at around 1.40am and opened fire on the workers,” the commissioner of Makran division said.
Eight personnel of Levies Force were taken into custody for interrogation because, according to officials, they did not offer resistance to the attackers.
Provincial Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti said they would face action for negligence.
“The victims belonged to Sindh and Punjab. They were working for a private construction company building a bridge over a stream in Gogdan, 15km from Turbat,” he said.
Sarfaraz Bugti said security forces had launched a massive operation in Turbat area in pursuit of the killers.
“The attackers were not Baloch. The labourers were killed by terrorists and terrorists have no caste, creed or religion,” he said.
Eight Levies men taken into custody for questioning; banned militant group claims responsibility
Talking to reporters after arriving at Rahimyar Khan’s Sheikh Zayed International Airport, Mr Bugti said that groups supported by India’s premier intelligence agency were involved in what he called the ethnic massacre. The minister had gone to Rahimyar Khan to offer condolences to the families of workers mowed down in the attack. Thirteen of the 20 workers were from Rahimyar Khan and the seven others from Sindh’s Mithi and Badin districts.
The banned Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Frontier Corps and police took the bodies and the injured to the Turbat district hospital, where doctors declared 20 of them dead.
“The victims received multiple bullet wounds to their torsos, causing their death on the spot,” officials quoted hospital sources as saying.
The District Police Officer of Kech, Imran Qureshi, said that the attackers had overpowered security personnel posted at the camp before opening fire.
“The bodies have been sent to the native areas of the slain workers,” he added.
He said that the personnel of Levies Force entrusted with protecting the camp were not present when administration officials arrived there with FC troops and police.
CHIEF MINISTER: Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, accompanied by Chief Secretary Saifullah Chattah, rushed to Turbat from Gwadar and presided over a meeting of administration and security officials.
The chief minister, too, held the “negligence” of Levies personnel responsible for the tragedy.
He announced a compensation of Rs1 million for the family of each deceased and Rs50,000 for every injured.
The slain workers were identified as Sobdad, Abdul Majeed, Mohammad Ayub, Mohammad Aslam, Mohammad Rana, Abdul Rehman, Mohammad Farooq, Haji Din Mohammad, Ashiq Hussain, Allah Dina, Mumtaz Ahmed, Bawal Khan, Mohammad Irshad, Faqir Mohammad, Afzal, Sajid Ali, Tahir Zaman, Kala and Nela Methu. The name of one of the deceased could not be ascertained.
Three injured — Allah Dina, Mohammad Ashraf and Malik Sona — were admitted to the Turbat hospital.
Our Staff Correspondent adds from Hyderabad: Emotional scenes were witnessed at the Hyderabad airport when the bodies of seven labourers were brought by an army helicopter.
Of the seven, five were residents of Chavanhar village, near Islamkot in Mithi district, and two of Talhar, Badin district.
Our Lahore Bureau adds: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif announced Rs1m in compensation for families of the labourers from Rahimyar Khan.
Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2015