QUETTA/GWADAR: At least 14 people, including 11 personnel of Navy, Air Force and Coast Guards, were killed by gunmen after they were picked up with the help of their computerised national identity cards (CNICs) and offloaded from seven buses in the Buzi Pass area near Ormara in Gwadar district on Wednesday night.
Official sources said that the tragic incident took place on the Makran Coastal Highway linking Karachi with the port city of Gwadar. The buses were going to Gwadar from Karachi.
An alliance of three banned militant organisations — the Balochistan Liberation Front, Balochistan Republican Army and Baloch Republican Guard — has claimed responsibility for the killings. A spokesman for the alliance, Baloch Khan, said that security personnel were killed after their identities were established.
“Around 20 to 25 armed men wearing uniforms of security forces intercepted seven buses. They boarded the buses impersonating as Frontier Corps (FC) personnel, asked the passengers to show their national identity cards, selected 16 of them and forcibly offloaded them,” Balochistan Home Minister Ziaullah Langove said. “The armed men took the 16 passengers with them and later opened fire on them.”
Victims were picked up after being identified by their CNICs, forcibly offloaded from seven buses travelling on Coastal Highway
Sources said that two of the passengers managed to escape when the gunmen started firing. “The bodies of the remaining 14 were found in a room of a roadside eatery,” Levies officials said, adding that hands of the victims were tied behind their backs. The room of Noor Bakhsh Hotel where bodies were found was splattered with blood.
The sources said that the two survivors informed Levies Force personnel manning a nearby check-post about the incident.
Personnel of the FC, Navy, police and Levies cordoned off the area and shifted the bodies to the Navy Hospital in Ormara. Levies officials quoting the hospital staff said that all victims had received multiple bullet wounds on different parts of the bodies. “They were shot from close range and the killers had particularly targeted their heads and chests.”
A spokesman for the Pakistan Navy said that the victims included Navy personnel, but did not tell the number of the martyred Navy personnel. However, according to Levies officials, the 11 martyred security personnel were identified as Ali Asghar, Farhan Ullah, Ali Raza, Waseem, Haroon, Hamza, Rizan, Rustam and Zain of the Pakistan Navy, Yousaf of the Pakistan Air Force and Zulfiqar of the Coast Guards.
Three victims whose bodies were found in a pool of blood in the hotel room could not be identified so far.
Unconfirmed reports said that the gunmen set at liberty one of the men they had taken with them because he was a resident of Winder, Balochistan.
The provincial home minister condemned the tragic incident and termed it a pre-planned act of terrorism. He said that the possibility of involvement of external elements in the incident could not be ruled out as such elements always wanted to disturb law and order in Balochistan.
“The enemies should not try to undermine the government’s writ,” Mr Langove said, adding that the government had zero tolerance for terrorism. “We will revenge every drop of blood of our innocent people, take out desperate terrorists from their hideouts and bring them to book.”
No “external conspiracy” would succeed in stopping progress of the country, the home minister said, adding that the government would ensure success of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Official sources said that security forces had launched a combing operation in the mountainous area of Buzi Pass and surrendering areas to trace out the militants involved in the incident.
The Shia Ulema Council (SUC) has announced that “protest day” will be observed on Friday (today) to condemn the acts of terrorism on the Coastal Highway and in Hazarganji Market of Quetta, reports our staff reporter from Lahore.
SUC Quaid Allama Sajid Naqvi and president Allama Sabtain Sabzwari said that processions would be taken out across the country to express solidarity with the victims of both terror attacks. After Friday prayers, rallies will be staged on all national highways.
SUC information secretary Mirza Naqi Ali said: “The Shia community is suffering targeted attacks and culprits are going almost scot free, which only encourages terrorists.”
He said that the community members would take to streets on Friday to remind the government and all state institutions about multiplying human cost of terrorism and the need for urgent action to counter terrorism.
He said that terrorism could not be eliminated without countering the menace at social level in its entirety. “Regular attacks on the Shia community are reported from different parts of the country. It is not only the Shia community which is bearing the brunt of terrorism, but law-enforcement agencies are also suffering,” he said. “During the last few weeks, such attacks have taken a huge toll in Dera Ismail Khan, Quetta and other parts of Balochistan.”
Mr Ali said concerted efforts were needed at the national level to defeat terrorism.
Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2019