QUETTA: At least four women belonging to the ethnic Hazara Shia community were killed and one injured when unidentified assailants opened fire on a bus on Kirani road near Pud Gali Chowk area of the provincial capital on Tuesday evening.
"The bus was stopped and the women were shot because of their ethnicity," said provincial government's spokesman Anwarul Haq Kakar.
A senior police official also confirmed to Dawn.com that the deceased women belonged to the ethnic Hazara Shia minority community and were allegedly targeted due to their sect.
"It was a public transport bus and had eight women on board, out of which five were hit during the attack," said DIG Operations of Quetta police.
Police officials said the bus was travelling to Hazara Town when it was attacked by unidentified assailants.
Frontier Corps and police teams were dispatched to the area to control the situation. The injured were taken to Bolan Medical Hospital in Quetta for treatment and security in and around the hospital was tightened.
Chief Minister Balochistan Sanaullah Zehri condemned the incident.
Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti, while addressing a press conference, said that Indian agency RAW's involvement can not be ruled out in the attack.
He added the terrorists picked a soft target, and all efforts would be made to arrest the culprits.
Balochistan has been experiencing incident violence and targeted killings since more than a decade. More than 1,400 incidents targeting the minority Shia and Hazara community have taken place in the province during the past 15 years.
While sectarian terrorism in Balochistan has disproportionately targeted the Hazara community, easily identifiable because of their distinctive physical appearance, other Shias — especially pilgrims travelling to and from Iran — have not been spared either.