QUETTA - At least nine people, including seven Shias and two staff members of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), were killed and several others injured in armed attacks in Quetta and Mastung districts of Balochistan on Thursday.
The UN staff members were killed while on duty in Mastung, while the other seven people were killed in yet another tragic targeted attack on the Hazara-Shia populace in Quetta. Per details, three staff members of FAO were on way to work in Mastung in a hired vehicle when two armed men opened indiscriminate fire on them. As a result, driver Habibullah and field coordinator Zahid were killed, while Irfan Ahmad, another coordinator, received bullet injuries.
Shakar Khan, a police official, said both men sitting on the front seats of the vehicle received bullets and died on the spot, while the one in the back seat escaped with bullet injuries. In the tragedy that struck Quetta, seven people, including a woman, of the Hazara-Shia community were killed while six others received bullet injuries when unknown armed men sprayed bullets on a passenger van on Thursday. The incident was followed by a violent protest by Hazara Shias wherein a police constable got killed accidentally. According to details, a van carrying passengers from Hazara Town was heading to Marriabad when it was attacked on Spinny Road. The driver of van, who also received injuries, sped up the vehicle and rushed all the injured and the dead to the civil hospital. The attack killed two people on the spot and injured nine others, five of whom succumbed to their injuries later.
Amir Mohammad Dasti, SHO of the Brewery Police Station, told reporters that the attackers who were armed with AK-47 rifles were riding a motorcycle and waiting for the vehicle to pass by. After the killing, various groups of the Hazara community took to the streets and started protesting against the killings. Some of them rushed to Bacha Khan (Meezan) Chowk and blocked the main road. Some of them fired hundreds of aerial shots, while others pointed to the police party that had reached the area to persuade the protesters to let traffic pass by. As a result of a scuffle and firing by protesters, a police constable, said to be the bodyguard of Brewery SHO Amir Mohammad Dasti, was killed.
The Frontier Corps was called in when protesters became more violent. Police later arrested over a dozen protesters. The Hazara Democratic Party alleged that two of the protesters were killed by police firing, while police said they were killed by the firing of armed protesters. The violent mob also put four motorcycles of passers-by on fire. The Hazara Democratic Party has given a shutter down strike call for Friday. Human rights groups have heavily criticised Pakistan for failing to crack down on sectarian violence between the majority Sunni Muslims and Shias, who account for around 20 percent of the population. Thousands of people have died in related unrest since the late 1980s.