QUETTA, April 9: At least six people were killed and three others injured in a drive-by shooting here on Monday evening. The banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) claimed responsibility for the killing.

Balochistan Chief Minister Aslam Raisani suspended eight policemen, including an inspector, for negligence of duty. They were part of a team patrolling the area.

“The six men died on the spot,” DIG (operations) Qazi Wahid told Dawn. He said the incident appeared to be of a sectarian nature. Sources said some people belonging to the Hazara Shia community were sitting in a shoe shop in Masjid Road area when four assailants riding motorcycles opened fire on them with automatic weapons and escaped.

Police shifted the bodies and the injured to Civil Hospital. Initially, four bodies were brought to the hospital, but when police later went to the shop they found two more bodies there. The dead were identified as Qurban Ali, M. Hussain, Mama Karim, Shabir, Nadir Ali and Saeed Ahmed. They were hit in the chest and head.

All the victims were residents of Hazara town, on the outskirt of Quetta.

Police were clueless about the number of assailants and the motive behind the killing.

“We are investigating the incident,” the DIG said, adding that witnesses were not available because soon after the firing people had closed their shops. It was the third such incident over the past 10 days.

Six people, a woman among them, were killed in an armed attack on a van carrying people from Hazara town to Quetta on March 29. Two days later, two more people were killed by gunmen in MeCongi road area.

Talking to reporters from an unspecified place, LJ spokesman Ali Sher Haidari said his organisation was behind the Masjid road attack.

Soon after the incident, a group of people from the Hazara community gathered at the Civil Hospital and tried to block the Jinnah Road. They also fired shots in the air.

The administrated immediately deployed a heavy contingent of police and Balochistan Constabulary to meet any untoward situation.

Police said a labourer was injured when some people returning from the hospital fired shots in Wafa road area. The man, identified as Noor Hussain, was taken to hospital.

Provincial Home Secretary Nasibullah Bazai said 17 suspects had been rounded up during raids in different areas of the city.

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