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At least eight dead in Balochistan

Published Aug 27, 2012 08:34am

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A man comforts a mourner, following the killing of Shia Muslims, at a hospital in the northwestern district of Mansehra, Aug 16, 2012. — Photo by AFP

QUETTA: Gunmen shot dead eight people in attacks on two buses as rebels in Balochistan staged a strike to mark the anniversary of a tribal leader's death, officials said Monday.

There was a “complete strike” in provincial capital Quetta and several other districts on Sunday, local police chief Wazir Khan told AFP, with shops and markets closed and traffic brought to a standstill.

The halt was called by Balochistan Republican Party (BRP) leader Brahmdagh Bugti to mark the sixth anniversary of the death of his grandfather Akbar Bugti, a rebel chieftain killed in his mountain hideout during a military operation in 2006.

In the southeastern district of Bolan, gunmen opened fire on two buses late Sunday, killing eight people including two women, police official Iftikhar Bugti said.

BRP spokesman Sarbaz Baluch claimed responsibility for the shooting.

“We had launched an appeal for a complete strike and the buses bound for southern Sindh and central Punjab provinces had ignored our appeal. We therefore opened fire on them,” he said in a telephone call to AFP.

Separately three Shia Muslims were killed in a sectarian drive-by shooting on Monday, police officer Zakir Ali said.

Police and residents said Sunday's strike was almost complete across the impoverished and insurgency-hit province, with 21 out of 30 districts affected.

People blocked roads and erected barricades in several places on highways leading to Iran, the southern port of Karachi and other important cities, they said.

The strike was endorsed by other political and religious parties in the province, with around 300 people demonstrating in Quetta to demand the extradition and trial of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf for ordering the operation in 2006.