QUETTA: At least six people were killed and 10 others injured in what appeared to be a sectarian attack in Hazara Town on Friday morning.
A man who said he was a spokesman for the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi called a local news agency to claim responsibility for the attack.
The Hazara Democratic Party and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party gave a call for a strike in Quetta on Saturday in protest against the attack.
According to police, the rocket and gun attack was carried out at about 6.30am when people were playing cricket and football and doing exercise in a ground adjacent to the Hazara graveyard.
Three rockets fired from nearby mountains exploded in an open area near some houses, but caused no casualty.
After the rocket attack, armed men on three vehicles appeared on the western bypass road and started firing on people in the ground.
“Four people were killed on the spot and another succumbed to his injuries in the Combined Military Hospital,” DIG (Operation) Hamid Shakeel said, adding that a woman had also died because of shock during the attack.
The assailants escaped.
One official put the death toll at eight.
“They fired over 100 bullets from the three vehicles,” police said.
Police and Frontier Corps personnel cordoned off the area and local people took the bodies and the injured to the Bolan Medical Collage Hospital and the CMH.
“The condition of at least four of the injured is critical,” hospital sources said.
Angered by the attack, hundreds of people of Hazara community blocked the western bypass by putting barricades and burning tyres. All vehicular traffic, including movement of trucks and trailers carrying Nato supplies, was suspended.
Local administration officials and police tried to persuade the protesters to disperse but they said they would not leave the road till the attackers were arrested.
Sources said that police officer Amir Khan Dasti was injured when he was attacked with a dagger when he was talking to the protesters.
The deceased Haji Mohammad Ibrahim, Mohammad Ismail, Jan Ali, Ali Dad, Jawad and Hukam Bibi were buried in Hazara graveyard where hundreds of people attended their funeral.
Balochistan Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi and Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani condemned the attack and asked investigation officials to submit their report as soon as possible.
Presiding over a meeting here, the chief minister asked police and other law-enforcement agencies to take steps to protect citizens. He said police should use all available resources to bring the killers to justice.
He ordered increased patrolling and more police checkpoints in sensitive areas.
The US embassy in Islamabad issued a statement condemning the attack. “The senseless killing of innocent civilians is an affront to the people of Pakistan and to all humanity. All must stand together and take resolute action to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat terrorist organisations,” it said.