Gunmen kill 11 coal miners in south-west Pakistan

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Pakistan miners killed, © AP/Press Association Images
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By Abdul Sattar, Associated Press

Gunmen have opened fire on a group of minority Shiite Hazara coal miners after abducting them, killing 11, in south-western Baluchistan province, a Pakistani official said.

The so-called Islamic State group later claimed responsibility for the attack.

Moazzam Ali Jatoi, an official with the Levies Force, which serves as police and paramilitary in the area, said the attack took place near the Machh coal field, about 30 miles east of the provincial capital Quetta.

Mr Jatoi said armed men took the coal miners to nearby mountains, where they opened fire.


He said six of the miners died at the scene and five died on the way to hospital.

He said an initial investigation found the attackers identified the miners as being from a Shiite Hazara community and the gunmen took them away for execution, leaving others unharmed.

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No group immediately claimed responsibility but banned Sunni extremist organisation Lashker-e-Jhangvi has targeted the minority Hazara community in Baluchistan in the past.

Local television footage showed security troops surrounding a desolated mountainous area diverting traffic and guiding ambulances to pick up the bodies. Security forces were also seen spreading out in the mountains to search for the killers.


People from the Shiite Hazara community burn tyres and block a road as a protest against the killings (Arshad Butt/AP)

News of the killings spread quickly among the Hazara community and members took to the streets in Quetta and surrounding areas to protest, blocking roads with burning tyres and tree trunks.

Officials quickly closed the affected roads to traffic.

The violence was largely condemned across the country, with prime minister Imran Khan saying the perpetrators would be taken to task and the affected families would be taken care of.

Baluchistan is the scene of a low-level insurgency by Baluch separatist groups who have also targeted non-Baluch workers, but they have no history of attacks on the minority Shiite community.

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