QUETTA: Unknown assailants killed five people belonging to the Hazara community in Quetta's Bacha Khan Chowk area on Sunday evening.
Police sources said suspected militants opened fire at two shops near Bacha Khan Chowk, the city's commercial hub.
Police stated the deceased belonged to the Hazara community. Four people had died on the spot while there was one injured who was rushed to Combined Military Hospital (CMH) Quetta for medical treatment. However, he later succumbed to his injuries.
Police said the assailants managed to escape from the scene. It was an act of targeted killing, police sources told Dawn.com.
Soon after the incident, markets and business establishments were closed and panic gripped the area. Traffic vanished from the roads.
In the past few days, more than half-a-dozen Hazara community were also gunned down in Quetta.
Police and personnel of Frontier Corps (FC) were called to the area to bring the situation under control. Balochistan Chief Minister Dr. Malik Baloch strongly condemned the incident and directed the police to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“Strict action will be taken against the elements involved in the target killing,” he said.
The chief minister expressed sympathy with the bereaved families and promised all possible help to them.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility following the attack.
Later, around 500 people from the community took to the streets in protest against the incident carrying the coffins of the deceased and refusing to bury them.
About 500 protesters placed the coffins of the victims on the road and chanted slogans against the government for failing to protect them.
“We are facing a genocide and the government makes only empty promises instead of providing protection,” Husnain Ali, a protester in his early 20s, told AFP.
He said he would sit on the road with the dead bodies until the perpetrators are arrested.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the firing incident in Quetta in which members of Hazara community lost their lives.
The prime minister sought a report over the incident and asked authorities to apprehend the criminals at the earliest.
He also extended his condolences to the bereaved families.
Balochistan has been experiencing incident violence and targeted killings since more than a decade. The largest province of the country by area, is home to a low-level insurgency by ethnic Baloch separatists. Al Qaeda-linked militants also operate in the region.
The province shares borders with Afghanistan and Iran.