At least four family members belonging to the ethnic Hazara Shia community and their driver were shot dead when unidentified gunmen opened fire on their vehicle near Balochistan's Mastung area on Wednesday, police said.

Two women were travelling in the vehicle that was targeted by the assailants; one of them was among the four people killed, local police chief Mohammad Ishaq said. The other woman sustained injuries in the incident.

The family's driver who was also killed was Sunni, Ishaq said.

According to police sources, the victims were on their way to Quetta from Karachi when gunmen riding a motorcycle targeted their car. The assailants escaped unhurt after carrying out the attack.

The incident appears to be an act of targeted killing, police sources added.

The bodies and injured were shifted to Sandeman Civil Hospital in Quetta.

Police and other Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) personnel reached the site and started an investigation into the incident.

Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti strongly condemned the incident and termed it "against the social and tribal norms of Balochistan".

Balochistan has been experiencing incidents of 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.

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