Nine passengers from Punjab killed execution-style in Noshki

In Local
April 13, 2024



QUETTA:

At least nine passengers were plucked from a bus, abducted, and killed execution-style in a horrific attack that appears to be motivated by ethnic hatred in the Noshki district of Balochistan, police and administration officials said on Saturday.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the sickening executions, but Baloch separatist groups have carried out such targeted attacks particularly against people from Punjab, the province they blame for alleged exploitation of Balochistan’s natural resources.

Noshki’s Deputy Commissioner Habibullah Musakhail confirmed to The Express Tribune that 10 to 12 attackers opened fire on a bus en route to Taftan border after the driver did not stop at a roadblock on the Quetta-Taftan National Highway N-40.

The gunmen then boarded the bus at a place called Sultan Charhai, seizing nine passengers after verifying their national identity cards to confirm they were from Punjab, stated Abdullah Mengal, an official of Noshki police station. “All of them were travelling to Taftan en route to Iran,” he said, adding that the victims were shot at close range.

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The bullet-riddled bodies of the abducted passengers were later discovered by law enforcers under a bridge after one and a half hours, Musakhail added.

The victims, all men, hailed from Wazirabad, Mandi Bahauddin, and Gujranwala districts of Punjab. Levies and the Frontier Corps launched a coordinated operation to comb the area for attackers.

Migrants from Punjab often use lesser-known routes to sneak into Iran for their onward illegal journey to Europe. Few are lucky enough to get there, while most are either caught in Iran or Turkey.

Following the grisly discovery, the victims’ bodies were shifted to the Civil Hospital in Quetta, from where they were transported to the Police Line for funeral prayers.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif denounced the grisly executions and sought a report from the provincial administration. He offered his condolences, saying: “We stand with the bereaved families in this hour of grief.”

Also read: LEAs land a big blow to terrorists in Balochistan

The prime minister stated that the perpetrators of this heinous act of terrorism and their facilitators would be punished. He also reiterated his commitment to eliminating the menace of terrorism from the country.

Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Sarfraz Bugti directed that the bodies be taken to the hometowns of the victims via ambulances.

CM Bugti also expressed grief and sorrow over the gruesome tragedy. “Terrorists will be dealt with firmly,” he said, vowing that the nefarious designs of terrorists would be thwarted.

Balochistan has been in the throes of a deadly Baloch separatist insurgency since 2004, and the fluid security situation has been further exacerbated by ethnic, extremist, and sectarian terrorism in the dirt-poor but resource-rich province.

Hostile agencies, especially India’s RAW, have also been actively involved in stoking unrest in the province for strategic objectives.

Baloch separatists and religious extremists have repeatedly carried out such executions in the past. In October last year, gunmen shot dead six labourers from Punjab in Turbat.

They were hired for a construction project in the area and lived in a house provided by their contractor. At least 20 construction workers were shot dead, and three others injured in a similar attack on a labourers’ camp in Turbat in 2015.

The victims, all hailing from Punjab and Sindh, were asleep when gunmen stormed their camp and carried out the sickening massacre.

 

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