Militants kill 23 Shia Muslim pilgrims in Baluchistan
Quetta: Militants have killed 23 Shia Muslim pilgrims in the Taftan area of the troubled Baluchistan province, officials said.
Four of the attackers had also been killed by the levies forces after heavy exchange of fire, Home Minister, Mir Sarfaraz Bugti, told reporters.
The attack took place on Sunday when ten buses carrying Shia pilgrims came from Iran and stopped at a hotel in Taftan.
"As soon as the pilgrims came out of the buses to go to the hotel first a group of militants first opened indiscriminate firing on them and also threw hand grenades before rushing into the hotel and taking refuge there," Bugti said.
He said 23 pilgrims were killed as a result of the firing and when some attackers also blew up the buses.
The home secretary of the province, Akbar Durrani confirmed to PTI that security forces were able to overpower the attackers after a few hours of heavy exchange of gunfire as the masked militants had come heavily armed and prepared for a siege.
"The bodies of the pilgrims are being shifted to hospitals and the injured are also getting treatment," Durrani said.
"There were explosions after the buses were parked outside the hotels where the pilgrims were going to stay over night before they commenced their journey back the following day," Durrani said.
Attacks on Shia pilgrims have increased in recent years in the Baluchistan province where in the past also such attacks have killed dozens and injured scores of pilgrims. In January this year a bomb blast on a bus carrying pilgrims coming from Iran killed some 22 people in Mastung area of the province.
Leading Shia organizations have announced they would hold countrywide protests and sit-ins against the attack.