At least 14 passengers were picked out with the help of their National Identity Cards (NICs), forcibly offloaded from their bus and then shot dead by unidentified assailants on the Makran Coastal Highway in Ormara, Balochistan early on Thursday.
The attack occurred in the Buzi Top area between 12:30am and 1am.
According to Balochistan's Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohsin Hassan Butt, 15-20 unidentified armed assailants in camouflage were involved in the attack.
The IGP told DawnNewsTV that the assailants stopped a bus travelling between Karachi and Gawadar, identified 16 non-Baloch passengers by their NICs and shot them dead. According to a local official, some three dozen people in total had been travelling on the bus.
Provincial Home Secretary Haider Ali told AFP that the assailants had been wearing clothes that resembled Frontier Corps uniforms.
Fourteen of those offloaded were shot dead, while two passengers managed to escape and made it alive to the nearest Levies checkpost. They were subsequently shifted to Ormara Hospital for treatment. The bodies of the victims were recovered from Noor Baksh Hotel.
One navy and one coast guard personnel were among those killed, the home secretary confirmed.
Levies and other law enforcement personnel later secured the spot and launched an investigation into the incident.
The motive behind the killings and the identity of the victims are yet to be disclosed. No one has claimed responsibility for the killings.
Home Minister Zia Langove told AFP that a full-scale investigation had been launched into the attack and to track down the gunmen, who had fled the scene.
"Such incidents are intolerable and we will not spare the terrorists who carried out this dastardly attack," he said.
A similar incident took place in Balochistan's Mastung area in 2015, when armed men kidnapped about two dozen passengers from two Karachi-bound coaches and killed at least 19 of them in the mountainous area of Khad Kocha.
CM condemns attack, offers condolences
Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal condemned the incident and offered his condolences to the victims' families.
"These cowardly terrorists showed the extent of their barbarism by murdering innocent passengers," the chief minister said. He described the attack as a conspiracy to halt progress in Balochistan and tarnish the country's image, and assured that "progress will continue no matter what".
"The people of Balochistan look upon terrorists who follow the agenda of foreign elements with hate," he said. "Through the support of the people, terrorism will be eliminated and the terrorists will continue to be brought to justice."
Prime Minster Imran Khan condemned the killings in a statement from his office and expressed his condolences for the victims' families.
"The prime minister has sought a report into the incident," a PM Office statement said, according to APP.
"He directed the authorities concerned to make every possible effort to identify and bring the perpetrators of the barbaric act to justice. The prime minister also expressed his sympathies with the bereaved families of the victims."
President Dr Arif Alvi also condemned the "cowardly terrorist attack".
He expressed profound grief and sorrow over the loss of precious human lives in the incident, according to a statement issued by the Aiwan-e-Sadr.
The president prayed for eternal peace of the departed souls and forbearance of the bereaved families.
He emphasized that "such cowardly attempts to spread disunity in the country could never succeed". He said "the nation was united and steadfast in its fight against terrorism".
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif in his condemnation statement said that "the killers of innocent people have nothing to do with humanity". He said that coordinated terrorist attacks in the country are hinting at the involvement of the enemies of Pakistan.
Saying he shares the grief of the affected families, he prayed that God bless the departed souls and bestow their heirs with patience.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also condemned the killings.
"Today, once again, innocent people were killed in Balochistan," he said, adding that the government failed in controlling terrorists. The PPP chairman demanded that the government bring the perpetrators of the tragedy to justice.
Former president Asif Ali Zardari also condemned the incident and declared it a gruesome act. He said that those who kill innocent humans do not deserve any leniency. He said that terrorism was a curse which should be eliminated.
"Had the National Action Plan be implemented in letter and spit, such tragedies would not have occurred," he said.
Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM) chief Allama Raja Nasir Abbas expressed solidarity with the affected families and condemned the tragedy. He accused the United States, India and Israel of involvement in terrorism in Balochistan.
"All political and military leadership will have to sit together to defeat terrorism," he added.
Senator Mian Attique of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) condemned the incident and said that the entire nation stands with their Baloch brothers.
Senate Standing Committee on Interior Rehman Malik also condemned the killings and contacted the Balochistan police chief over telephone. "Such incidents of terrorism on the coastal highway are a matter of concern," he said. He expressed deep grief over the loss of lives and stressed the need for unity in the war against terrorism.