QUETTA: Five members of the Hazara community were gunned down in a targeted attack on their shops near Meezan Chowk in downtown Quetta on Sunday.
Four masked men riding two motorcycles opened fire at the people inside four shops owned by Hazara community members, Balochistan Home Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani told The Express Tribune. Four people were killed on the spot while the fifth victim succumbed to his injuries on the way to hospital.
The bodies were shifted to the Combined Military Hospital and Quetta Civil Hospital. The deceased were identified as Kazim Hussain and his son Zeeshan Hussain, Mohammad Idrees, Naimatullah and Mohammad Ali.
Eyewitnesses said that four people wearing masks and riding on two motorcycles opened indiscriminate fire at four shops selling tea and spices on Circular Road and Meezan Chowk. The assailants managed to flee the scene.
No group has come forward to claim responsibility for the attack. Police claimed to have arrested five suspects in connection with the attack and started investigations.
City police station officer Abdul Baqi told The Express Tribune the attackers targeted the shops owned by Hazara community members over sectarian motives. The community has often been targeted in bomb blasts and drive-by shootings in the insurgency-hit Balochistan, particularly Quetta.
Balochistan CM Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, who was in Lahore for the National Party’s Punjab convention, rushed to Quetta after the incident and ordered the immediate arrest of the attackers involved.
His spokesman Jan Buledi condemned the incident and termed the attack a conspiracy to destroy peace in Balochistan.
A large number of Hazara community members, including the relatives of the slain traders, staged a demonstration at Meezan Chowk along with the bodies. The protesters demanded the arrest of those behind the latest attack.
Hazara Democratic Party leader Abdul Khaliq Hazara also condemned the incident and demanded the immediate arrest of the attackers. The party also announced three-day mourning.
In the past month alone, around 19 people, including four policemen, have been killed and 19 more, including two women, have suffered injuries in targeted attacks in Quetta.
Policemen’s killing case
Police in Quetta also rounded up dozens of suspects in relation to the murder of four policemen, as the case for the attack was registered against unidentified suspects on Sunday.
The four police personnel, including a sub-inspector, were gunned down in the Baloch Chowk area of Pashtoonabad a day earlier.
According to the Pashtoonabad police station, the case was registered on behalf of the area SHO against unidentified persons under sections 302, 353, 427 and 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code.
The police spokesman said that 34 suspects were arrested while two 9mm pistols and some computers were seized during search operations in Pashtoonabad.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 8th, 2015.