At least 11 would-be economic migrants were shot dead by gunmen in Gwadar district near the Iranian border on Friday.
Two double-cabin pick-ups, carrying an unspecified number of economic migrants, were en route to the Iranian border when gunmen ambushed them in Suntsar, a mountainous area some 80 kilometres from Gwadar city, sources told The Express Tribune by phone. “Around 11 people, most hailing from Punjab, were killed,” one source added.
The gunmen escaped from the scene unchallenged. Sources said that rescuers and security forces could not reach the site immediately as it was raining and the dirt track leading to the area had become impassable.
The region’s top administrator confirmed that some people trying to cross into Iran were killed. “We don’t know the exact number of fatalities. We have sent security forces to the area to gather facts,” Rehmat Dashti, the assistant commissioner of Gwadar district, told The Express Tribune.
Dashti did not identify the victims. But the Makran route is frequently used by human smugglers to send economic migrants, mostly from Punjab and Afghanistan, to Europe via Iran and Turkey.
Checkpoints of security forces dot the major highways from Bela to Makran up to the Iranian border. This makes such large movement of migrants without the connivance of security forces very difficult.
Iranian security forces frequently arrest illegal immigrants, who are subsequently handed over to Pakistani border guards.
In other violence, at least two people were killed in a landmine explosion in Kachi district (former Bolan district) on Friday. Muhammad Aslam and his pillion rider were killed when their motorcycle hit a landmine in Haft Wali area.
It wasn’t immediately known who planted the landmine. But tribal insurgents frequently target security forces with roadside bombs and landmine in Balochistan, where a deadly insurgency has been raging on since 2004.
Also on Friday, at least two persons were wounded in a hand grenade attack in the Jail Road neighbourhood of Quetta.
“Unknown men lobbed a hand grenade at a shop on Jail Road, injuring two persons inside,” a police official said. The injured – Bilal Ahmed and Danish, residents of Kalat Street – were shifted to the Civil Hospital. It wasn’t immediately clear why the shop was targeted.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 22nd, 2012.
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