QUETTA: Pakistani police shot dead two people allegedly involved in sectarian violence in the troubled southwestern province of Balochistan, officials said Monday.
Anti-terrorists officers in the province, a flashpoint for violence between Pakistan's majority Sunni Muslims and minority Shia's, gave chase after they tried to approach the suspects in a Toyota car which sped away.
The suspects then abandoned the vehicle and tried to escape into fields under the cover of fire, provincial police chief Qazi Abdul Wahid told AFP.
“An ensuing gunbattle police killed the pair,” he said, adding that the encounter took place near Quetta's suburban Akhtarabad neighbourhood which lies close to the Shia Hazara community. Police recovered six pistols and one hand grenade from the suspects.
“We firmly believe they are target killers who had been on some mission. They belong to some extremist group involved in sectarian violence,” Wahid added.
Around 35 people have been killed in Baluchistan over the past month in what police called targeted killings by militants from the rival Muslim sects.
The minority Shia's account for around a fifth of the country's 167 million population.
Balochistan is also rife with militancy and a regional insurgency waged by separatists who rose up in 2004 demanding political autonomy and a greater share of profits from the region's wealth of natural resources.