QUETTA: Nine members of the Hazara community were shot dead in what appeared to be targeted killings in different parts of Quetta on Thursday, police said.
Eight of them were killed in a single incident, which took place early in the morning in the Hazarganji area on the outskirts of the provincial capital. The men were gunned down by unknown assailants as they were about to leave the area’s vegetable market.
“The five masked men boarded the bus in which the victims were seated, forced the driver off, and shot them,” Sariab SSP Imran Qureshi told The Express Tribune. “They killed one man outside the bus and the others inside it before fleeing on their motorcycles,” he said.
“Eight men were killed and another one was wounded in the sectarian attack,” confirmed Quetta CCPO Abdul Razzaq Cheema. “All of them had come from Hazara Town to buy vegetables for their shops,” he said. An hour after the Hazarganji killings, armed men on a motorbike gunned down another member of the Hazara community in Quetta’s Kirani Road locality.
Talking about the earlier incident, SSP Qureshi said members of the Hazara community were always provided security whenever they visited Hazarganji to purchase vegetables. “This time, however, the men who met with tragic end visited Hazarganji without informing us,” he added.
According to the SSP, the eight men were ‘Afghan Hazaras’ and did not know about the protocol for visiting Hazarganji. Only three of them had NIC cards, he said.
All nine members of the Hazara community killed on Thursday were buried in the Hazara Town graveyard.
Meanwhile, the Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) staged a protest demonstration outside the Quetta Press Club against the killings. “This is the fourth major incident targeting the Hazara community this year,” HDP leader Raza Mohammed Wakeel said. “The government has failed to protect the Hazara community. Police’s claim that they weren’t informed eight members of our community were going to Hazarganji is baseless,” he added. To protest against the killings, HDP has given the call for a shutter-down strike today (Friday).
Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2014.