Unidentified gunmen donning uniforms of paramilitary soldiers Thursday massacred at least 14 passengers, including Pakistan Navy personnel, after forcing them to disembark from buses on a highway in the restive Balochistan province, in the latest targeted killing in the country.
Around 15 to 20 gunmen stopped five to six buses travellingbetween Karachi and Gwadar. They stopped the buses on the Makran CoastalHighway in Balochistan's Ormara area, checked some three dozen passengers'identity cards and offloaded 16 people before shooting them dead, police said.
Balochistan Inspector General of Police Mohsin Hassan Buttsaid around 15 to 20 unidentified gunmen wearing uniforms of paramilitaryFrontier Corps were involved in the attack carried out early morning at BuziTop area.
"A total of 16 people were offloaded and 14 killedwhile 2 managed to escape," the officer said.
Balochistan Home Minister Zia Langove told the media thatthe attackers used their fatigue as a disguise to carry out a routine check onthe passengers.
"We have launched a probe to identify and arrest theattackers," he said, adding that the deceased have not been identified.
"One navy and one coast guard personnel were amongthose killed," Langove said.
A Pakistan Navy spokesperson said Navy personnel were amongthose killed in the attack.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has strongly condemned thekillings in a statement from his office and sought a report on the incident.
"The prime minister has sought a report into theincident," a PM Office statement said, according to APP news agency.
"He directed the authorities concerned to make everypossible effort to identify and bring the perpetrators of the barbaric act tojustice. The prime minister also expressed his sympathies with the bereavedfamilies of the victims," it said.
President Arif Alvi also condemned the "cowardlyterrorist attack".
Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal condemned the incidentand offered his condolences to the victims' families.
"These cowardly terrorists showed the extent of theirbarbarism by murdering innocent passengers," the chief minister said.
He described the attack as a conspiracy to halt progress inBalochistan and tarnish the country's image, and assured that "progresswill continue no matter what".
The motive behind the killings is yet to be ascertained andno group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran, isPakistan's largest and poorest province, rife with ethnic, sectarian andseparatist insurgencies.
In the past, minority Shia Muslims and ethnic workers fromthe Punjab province have been targeted in such attacks.
An ISIS suicide attack targeting Hazara Shias in theprovincial capital of Quetta last week killed 21 people and injured 60 others.Armed gunmen kidnapped about two dozenpassengers from two Karachi-bound coaches from Balochistan's Mastung area in2015, killing at least 19 of them in the mountainous area of Khad Kocha.