QUETTA: Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti laid the blame on India’s spy agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) for the deadly attack on bus passengers in Mastung late Friday night
"RAW is involved in the incident because India is against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor agreement," Bugti said at a press conference in Quetta.
Bugti added that so far seven suspected militants were killed in search operations in which 500 security personnel are taking part.
The death toll of the horrific Mastung massacre that took place in late Friday night has risen to 22, after Balochistan Levies found another body this morning.
PHOTO: NASEEM JAMES/EXPRESS
Earlier during the day, a large number of people including relatives of the victims of the Mastung tragedy staged a sit-in in front of the Governor House to protest the brutal kidnapping and butchering of the bus passengers.
According to reports, the protesters also laid down dead bodies of 16 people in front of the governor's residence. The protesters also tried to enter the CM house but were pushed back by the police when they started shelling.
PHOTO: NASEEM JAMES/EXPRESS
The protesters later agreed to bury their relatives after they spoke with Chief Minister Balochistan Abdul Malik Baloch.
"Security forces are taking action against the culprits," he told protesters.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also telephoned CM Balochistan and told him that an All Parties Conference will be held in Quetta some time next week to discuss how to promote peace in the region.
PHOTO: NASEEM JAMES/EXPRESS
FC conduct search operation
In the wee hours of Saturday, Frontier Corps (FC) officials carried out a search operation in the mountainous regions of Khad Khocha and the adjoining areas of Mastung.
According to a press release issued by the FC, 200 FC officials are taking part in the search operation and are being provided with helicopters along with help from the special op wing.
Read: Militants kill 19 passengers in Mastung after forcing them off bus
During the operation, two miscreants were killed and ammunition was recovered from them.
“Every aspect of terrorism will be eliminated from the area,” an FC spokesperson said.
In a grisly execution-style attack, twenty passengers were lined up and shot dead by unidentified gunmen after being pulled off two buses in Balochistan’s Mastung district.
Coming from the Pashtun-dominated area of Pishin, the two Karachi-bound buses were intercepted and stopped in Gidrang near Mastung district’s Kadocha area by as many as 40 gunmen around 9:00pm, according to security forces and Balochistan home department officials.
“At least 25 passengers were forced off the buses at gunpoint,” a senior home department official said.
Read: FC kill 5 suspected militants in Mastung search operation
“The gunmen killed at least 19 passengers and wounded one,” Balochistan Home Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani told reporters after the grisly incident. The sole injured passenger later died of his wounds.
“None of them [the victims] were settlers or Shia,” Durrani said.
His statement was confirmed later by Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti who said all of the victims were ‘Pashtun’.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack but Baluch separatists demanding greater autonomy have been waging an insurgency for years and the province is also riven by sectarian strife and violence.
'Treat culprits of Mastung massacre the same as Peshawar incident'
Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch requested the prime minister and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif to treat the perpetrators of the Mastung attack the same way that the culprits of Army Public School were brought to justice.
"We have requested the premier and army chief to treat the Mastung incident the same way as Peshawar attack,” Baloch said at a press conference.
Read: Main executor of Peshawar school attack captured: ISPR
“We will be using all resources to bring peace to the province,” the chief minister said. “The government is currently reviewing the security on all national highways.”
Addressing the relatives of the deceased, the chief minister said, “We stand in solidarity with the relatives of the victims of the Mastung attack.”
Baloch also announced three days of mourning and appealed to traders to keep their shops closed.
Also speaking at the conference, Leader of the Opposition in Balochistan Assembly, Maulana Abdul Wasay said “the incident is trying to create clashes between two brother nations, the Pashtun and the Baloch.”
Balochistan assembly condemns attack
Members from the Treasury and Opposition benches in the Balochistan Assembly on Saturday united in passing a resolution condemning the Mastung incident in which 22 passengers were gunned down on Friday night.
During Saturday’s session, a joint resolution was tabled by the Leader of the Opposition and Jamiat Ulema Isam-Fazal (JUI-F) parliamentary leader Moulana Wassey. The resolution strongly condemned the attack.
“The resolution stated that the assembly members are with the relatives in saddest movement who lost their loved one in Mastung,” he said, adding that the incident is creating the clash between the nations who are living in the province and termed it a conspiracy against Balochistan.
The resolution further demanded immediate arrest of the culprits who were responsible for the attack.
Moulana Wassey alleged that the Indian government had invested around Rs230 million in order to destabilise Pakistan and the China-Pakistan Economic corridor.
“The economy depends on peace. If there is peace, economy will be there,” Wassey said.
Chief Minister Balochistan Dr Malik Baloch concluding the debate has said his government will not spare the terrorists and they will be brought to justice at any cost. “The Baloch norms and tradition never allow killing innocent and unarmed people. Baloch people should rise up and deny space to such people in their areas.”