At least 14 people were lined up and executed in southwestern Pakistan after gunmen ambushed a bus and forced the passengers onto a highway early Thursday, officials said.
Almost 20 armed assailants wearing Frontier Corps uniforms stopped the bus and handpicked their victims in the dead of night, Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reported, citing senior Balochistan police officers. Around 15 to 20 unidentified gunmen in camouflage uniform stopped the bus, checked the ID cards of passengers, and offloaded about 16 of them, Inspector General of Police Mohsin Hassan Butt said. The victims were identified via their CNICs and shot at close range, he said.
They "stopped buses on the Makran Coastal Highway and gunned down 14 people", he said, adding that the four vehicles were travelling to the port megacity of Karachi from the coastal town of Ormara.
The bodies were shifted to Ormara Hospital for medico-legal formalities.
The incident spread panic and fear among dwellers of the region and are unwilling to speak to the police investigating into the incident.
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Prime Minster Imran Khan condemned the killings in a statement from his office and expressed his condolences for the victims' families.
Ethnic Baloch separatist groups say outsiders are exploiting the region's natural wealth at the expense of local people and have previously targeted foreigners and Pakistanis from other regions. The attack is said to have taken place on Makran Coastal Highway in Balochistan's Ormara area. He described the attack as a conspiracy to halt progress in Balochistan and tarnish the country's image, and assured that "progress will continue no matter what".
He further said that the country had sacrificed many lives but the "fight is far from over".
While no-one has claimed responsibility for the massacre, Baluchi separatists often target security forces and people from Punjab, who tend to dominate the ranks of the military stationed in Baluchistan whom the separatists are fighting.
The deceased included eight members of the Hazara community and soldier of the paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC).
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