Gunmen abduct and kill 9 passengers from Punjab after ID check on bus near Balochistan’s Noshki

Published April 13, 2024
Picture of the bus from which passengers were offloaded in Noshki before being killed. — Government of Punjab X
Picture of the bus from which passengers were offloaded in Noshki before being killed. — Government of Punjab X

Nine people from Punjab were killed near Noshki, Balochistan in the early hours of Saturday, when gunmen forced them off a bus they were travelling in and shot them, officials said. Another attack on a separate vehicle killed two people.

“About 10-12 gunmen blockaded the Quetta-Taftan Highway N-40 in the vicinity of Sultan Charhai near Noshki and abducted nine passengers from a bus,” Deputy Commissioner Habibullah Musakhel told Dawn.com.

The gunmen checked the identity cards of passengers from the Taftan-bound bus and kidnapped them, he added. They were subsequently shot dead.

The bodies of the abducted passengers were found under a bridge nearby after an hour and a half, Musakhel said. It’s unclear whether their belongings were taken.

The nine victims were from Punjab, Noshki Station House Officer Asad Mengal told Dawn.com. The victims — all of whom were men — were from Wazirabad, Mandi Bahauddin, and Gujranwala, according to identity documents seen by Dawn.com.

In a separate attack on the same highway, a car that tried to force its way through the gunmen’s cordon was fired upon, killing one passenger and injuring four, the SHO said.

When the car did not stop, the gunmen shot at the vehicle, bursting its tires. As a result, the vehicle overturned, SHO Mengal said. Two people, which police said were locals, were killed in the second attack. One of the car’s passengers was a brother of provincial assembly member Ghulam Dastgir Badini, the SHO added.

Dawn.com’s correspondent was able to confirm that both attacks were carried out at the same blockade.

The bodies of the victims were shifted to Quetta, Noshki Civil Hospital Medical Superintendent Zafar Mengal told Dawn.com.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks so far.

President Asif Ali Zardari condemned the attack and said the nation had “rejected the nefarious intentions” of the perpetrators.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif strongly condemned the attack and sought a report on the incident, according to Radio Pakistan.

He expressed his condolences to the victims’ families, saying: “We stand with the bereaved families in this hour of grief.”

The premier said the perpetrators of this incident of terrorism and their facilitators will be punished.

He also reaffirmed his commitment to wipe out the menace of terrorism from the root.

Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi said such acts could not be permitted in the country and no amount of condemnation would be enough for the incident.

Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Sarfraz Bugti expressed deep grief and sorrow over the sad incident, Radio Pakistan reported. He said terrorists would be dealt with iron hands and vowed that terrorists would not succeed in their nefarious designs.

Under Bugti’s directives, the bodies of the victims were sent to their hometowns via ambulances from Edhi and the Pakistan Disaster Management Authority.

Addressing the media at the Chief Minister’s House, CM Bugti said security plans would be revisited following the attack, adding that an inquiry was under way. “We are currently probing the incident, especially response times. If anyone has failed to uphold their responsibilities they will be held accountable.”

He said that the government was open to dialogue with separatists to ensure a peaceful resolution to the ongoing insurgency. “If a situation can be resolved through dialogue, then 100 per cent we are not against it,” he said. “But, the writ of the state must be and will be enforced. If they (insurgents) want to keep committing acts of violence then we will come after you.”

Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz also expressed regret over the incident and said the nation was one, adding that no trace would remain of those spreading hate in society.

Past incidents

In October last year, unidentified gunmen fatally shot six labourers hailing from Punjab in Turbat in Balochistan’s Kech district. The victims had been based in the house of a local contractor and were there for construction work when they became the target of the attack, District Police Officer (DPO) Imam Bux told Dawn.com

According to the police, the killings were targeted. All victims belonged to different areas of southern Punjab, suggesting they had been chosen for their ethnic background.

A similar incident occurred in 2015 when gunmen killed 20 construction workers and injured three others in a pre-dawn attack on a labourers’ camp near Turbat.

“The labourers were sleeping in the camp when it was stormed by the assailants,” Balochistan Home Secre­tary Akbar Hussain Durrani had told Dawn.

“Around 50 armed men riding two pickups and motorcycles descended on the camp at around 1:40am and opened fire on the workers,” the commissioner of Makran division said.

Eight personnel of Levies Force were taken into custody for interrogation because, according to officials, they did not offer resistance to the attackers.

Bugti, who was provincial home minister at the time, had said they would face action for negligence.

“The victims belonged to Sindh and Punjab. They were working for a private construction company building a bridge over a stream in Gogdan, 15 kilometres from Turbat,” he had said.

“The attackers were not Baloch. The labourers were killed by terrorists and terrorists have no caste, creed or religion,” he said.

Opinion

Editorial

ICJ rebuke
Updated 26 May, 2024

ICJ rebuke

The reason for Israel’s criminal behaviour is that it is protected by its powerful Western friends.
Hot spells
26 May, 2024

Hot spells

WITH Pakistan already dealing with a heatwave that has affected 26 districts since May 21, word from the climate...
Defiant stance
26 May, 2024

Defiant stance

AT a time when the country is in talks with the IMF for a medium-term loan crucial to bolstering the fragile ...
More pledges
Updated 25 May, 2024

More pledges

There needs to be continuity in economic policies, while development must be focused on bringing prosperity to the masses.
Pemra overreach
25 May, 2024

Pemra overreach

IT seems, at best, a misguided measure and, at worst, an attempt to abuse regulatory power to silence the media. A...
Enduring threat
25 May, 2024

Enduring threat

THE death this week of journalist Nasrullah Gadani, who succumbed to injuries after being attacked by gunmen, is yet...