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Pakistan: 7 workers shot dead in their sleep in Balochistan

May 9, 2024

Police said gunmen stormed into a house near southwestern Pakistan's Gwadar city and shot workers in an apparent ethnic attack. The victims were originally from Pakistan's Punjab province.

In this photo taken on February 3, 2024, a security personnel stands guard near Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) election office in Balochistan
Balochistan has seen a string of attacks in recent months Image: Banaras Khan/AFP

Unidentified gunmen shot and killed at least seven workers in Pakistan's southwestern province of Balochistan, police said on Thursday.

According to police official Mohsin Ali, gunmen stormed into a house some 25 kilometers (15 miles) east of the port city of Gwadar, and shot the workers while they were asleep. 

The coastal town of Gwadar is the site of several Beijing-backed projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor investment, which is part of the Belt and Road Initiative.

A view of Gwadar Port in southwest Pakistan's Gwadar
Gwadar is the site of several Beijing-backed projects under the $65 billion China-Pakistan Economic CorridorImage: Xinhua News Agency/picture alliance

The victims, who were from the central Pakistani province of Punjab, were running a barber shop, Ali said.

However, police said they believed the attack was not related to their jobs. Previous attacks claimed by the Pakistani Taliban near the Afghan border in the north were believed to have been motivated by a militant ban on Western-style beard trimming and haircuts.

Incident follows similar attack last month

Although no group has claimed responsibility for the killings, it follows a pattern of ethnically-motivated attacks in the restive Balochistan province

Last month, the so-called Balochistan Liberation Army claimed responsibility for killing several workers who were abducted from a bus on a highway.

Balochistan, a mineral-rich region, is home to a decades-old insurgency led by ethnic Baloch guerillas fighting the government. 

The separatists, who oppose Chinese investments, have long complained that they do not get a fair share of the province's profits.

The Baloch are an ethnic group living on both sides of the Iran-Pakistan border and into parts of southern Afghanistan in an area roughly the size of France. The Pakistani province of Balochistan forms the largest part.

Balochs accuse both governments of systematic discrimination and plundering their region. Several groups of militant insurgents have carried out attacks on both sides of the border.

fb/rm (Reuters, AP, dpa)