Even before the operation planned by the Balochistan government against miscreants could kick-start, the Hazara community was targeted again on Monday.
A man belonging to the Hazara community was gunned down in broad daylight on the Quarry Road in the first attack while six others managed to escape unhurt in the second one on the Spinny Road.
The banned religious outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) claimed responsibility for both the assaults. Its spokesperson, who introduced himself as Ali Shair Haideri, told reporters in Quetta from an unspecified location that his organisation would continue such attacks in the future.
Salman Ali, an elderly man, was sitting at a tyre shop when two assailants on a motorbike shot him in the head and chest and fled. The police reached the site and took the body to Sandeman Hospital.
Police termed the incident a case of “sectarian targeted killing”. The victim belonged to the Hazara community and was a resident of Marriabad.
The episode triggered panic and most shops and markets on the Quarry Road, Prince Road, Mezan Chowk and Liaquat Bazaar were immediately shut down. Police were seen advising people to go home in view of the security situation.
The killing happened in the heart of the city where a heavy contingent of police, Frontier Corps (FC) and other law enforcement agencies had been deployed a few days ago, following the targeted killing of six people last Monday.
A few hours earlier, a yellow cab carrying people of the Hazara community escaped unhurt when a group of armed men opened fire at them on the Spinny Road.
“The people were on their way to Marriabad from Hazara Town when they were attacked. However, they escaped unhurt,” the Shia Conference stated in its statement condemning the rising sectarian violence.
“It is ironic that the chief minister chaired a high-level meeting with the participation of top officials of all law enforcement agencies and the very next day killings of innocent people has resumed,” the community leaders lamented.
Consequently, a score of Hazara people blocked the highway on the Western Bypass to condemn the targeted killings. They raised slogans against the government and law enforcement agencies for their failure to break up the chain of target killers.
Angry protesters also burnt tyres on the Mezan chowk and Alamdar Road.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2012.