At least 11 coal miners – all members of the minority Hazara Shia community – were kidnapped and reportedly killed in Machh town in Pakistan’s Balochistan province on Sunday by unidentified gunmen.
The men were abducted at gunpoint and then taken to a secluded area in the nearby hills where they were attacked, according to various accounts. It is believed they were kidnapped from their hostel located near a mine where they worked.
Conflicting reports suggest that the miners were tied up and either shot or had their throats slit after they were taken to the nearby hills.
However, a video clip that has gone viral on social media shows three bodies outside a room, suggesting that some of the miners may have been killed outside their hostel.
Police said that the survivors were taken to a hospital in Machh, and that initial reports said 10 coal miners had been brought dead or were in critical condition. The death toll was later reported to have reached 11.
This is the first major attack on members of the Hazara community since April last year when a suicide bomb attack at a market killed 18 people; most of them were Hazaras.
There have been constant attacks on members of the community by terror groups. While no one immediately claimed responsibility for Sunday’s episode, Hazaras have historically been targeted by Taliban and Islamic State militants, apart from other Sunni extremist groups.
In 2013, three bombings killed more than 200 people in Hazara neighbourhoods in Quetta.
Following Sunday’s attack, members of the Hazara minority in Quetta blocked the western bypass in protest and set tyres on fire. Heavy contingents of police, local administration and frontier constabulary (FC) personnel cordoned off the area.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the killings and termed the incident “yet another cowardly (and) inhumane act of terrorism”. He tweeted, “The families of the victims will not be left abandoned by the (government). Have asked the FC to use all resources to apprehend these killers and bring them to justice.”