January 15th, 2021

IS gunmen kill 11 minority Shiite coal miners in SW Pakistan


By Abdul Sattar, The Associated Press on January 3, 2021.

People from the Shiite Hazara community mourn around the bodies of coal mine workers who were killed by unknown gunmen near the Machh coal field, in Quetta, Pakistan, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021. Gunmen opened fire on a group of minority Shiite Hazara coal miners after abducting them, killing 11 in southwestern Baluchistan province early Sunday, a Pakistani official said. (AP Photo/Arshad Butt)

QUETTA, Pakistan – Gunmen opened fire on a group of minority Shiite Hazara coal miners after abducting them, killing 11 in southwestern Baluchistan province early Sunday, a Pakistani official said.

The 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 48 kilometres (30 miles) east of the provincial capital Quetta.

Jatoi said armed men took the coal miners to nearby mountains, where they shot them. He said six of the miners died at the scene, and five who were critically wounded died on the way to a hospital.

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

Police video of the bodies revealed the miners were blindfolded and had their hands tied behind their backs before being shot.

Local television footage showed security forces working in a mountainous area to traffic and guide ambulances to the bodies. Security forces were also seen spreading out in the mountains to search for the perpetrators.

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

Shiite cleric Nasir Abbas said protests over the incident would be organized across the country. Political and religious leaders from different segments of the population also expressed their grief and sorrow over the killings.

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

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