• People were travelling from Ormara to Karachi
  • Pak Navy personnel among the victims
  • Militants in Frontier Corps uniform stopped the buses, checked the identity, tight hands and legs, shot at point blank

Nation special report

QUETTA: In an unbelievable horrific racist attack in Balochistan, the southern province of Pakistan, at least 14 passengers were shot dead on Thursday. The victims were picked out with the help of their National Identity Cards (NICs), forcibly offloaded from their bus, tight their hands and legs and then shot dead by unidentified assailants on the Makran Coastal Highway in Ormara, Balochistan.

The attack occurred in the Buzi Top area between 12:30am and 1am. According to Balochistan’s Inspector General of Police Mohsin Hassan Butt, 15-20 unidentified armed assailants in camouflage were involved in the attack. Provincial Home Secretary Haider Ali  disclosed that the assailants had been wearing clothes that resembled Frontier Corps uniforms.

The gunmen stopped a bus travelling between Gwadar and Karachi, checked the identity cards of the passengers and offloaded 16 of them, the IGP said. According to a local official, some three dozen people in total had been travelling on the bus.

Fourteen of those offloaded were shot dead, while two passengers managed to escape and made it alive to the nearest Levies checkpost. They were subsequently shifted to Ormara Hospital for treatment. The bodies of the victims were recovered from Noor Baksh Hotel.

One navy and one coast guard personnel were among those killed, the home secretary confirmed.

Levies and other law enforcement personnel later secured the spot and launched an investigation into the incident.

The motive behind the killings and the identity of the victims are yet to be disclosed. No one has claimed responsibility for the killings but it is generally believed that this heinous crime was based on racial discrimination. Unconfirmed reports (sofar) claimed that they belonged to Punjab province.

Home Minister Zia Langove said that a full-scale investigation had been launched into the attack and to track down the gunmen, who had fled the scene. “Such incidents are intolerable and we will not spare the terrorists who carried out this dastardly attack,” he said.

Pakistan Navy personnel were among 14 people killed in Ormara firing. They were travelling in civilian buses when targeted.

Police said that the terrorists asked for National Identity Cards (NICs) of all the passengers before shooting them at point blank range in Buzi Top area, state-owned APP reported.

The gunmen “stopped buses on the Makran Coastal Highway and gunned down 14 people”, he said, adding that the vehicles were travelling to Karachi from the coastal town of Ormara.

According to Levies sources, the dead bodies were shifted to a nearby health facility in Ormara.  

A similar incident took place in Balochistan’s Mastung area in 2015, when armed men kidnapped about two dozen passengers from two Karachi-bound coaches and killed at least 19 of them in the mountainous area of Khad Kocha.

Within the past week, Balochistan has seen a terror attack targeting the Hazara community in Quetta which left at least 21 killed, and a blast in Chaman which targeted security forces.

President Dr Arif Alvi also condemned the “cowardly terrorist attack”. He expressed profound grief and sorrow over the loss of precious human lives in the incident, according to a statement issued by the Aiwan-e-Sadr. The president prayed for eternal peace of the departed souls and forbearance of the bereaved families.

Prime Minister Imran Khan strongly condemned the dastardly act of terrorism and sought a report into the incident, said a statement. He directed the authorities concerned to make every possible effort to identify and bring the perpetrators of the barbaric act to justice.

Chief Minister Jam Kamal termed the tragedy as a conspiracy to derail the development process of the province. “These cowardly terrorists showed the extent of their barbarism by murdering innocent passengers,” the chief minister said. He described the attack as a conspiracy to halt progress in Balochistan and tarnish the country’s image, and assured that “progress will continue no matter what”.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also condemned the killings. “Today, once again, innocent people were killed in Balochistan,” he said, adding that the government failed in controlling terrorists. The PPP chairman demanded that the government bring the perpetrators of the tragedy to justice.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari also condemned the incident and declared it a gruesome act. He said that those who kill innocent humans do not deserve any leniency. He said that terrorism was a curse which should be eliminated. “Had the National Action Plan be implemented in letter and spit, such tragedies would not have occurred,” he said.