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Gunmen kill 11 coal miners in Pakistan


Gunmen have opened fire on a group of minority Shiite Hazara coal miners in Pakistan after abducting them, killing 11 in the south-western Baluchistan province, an official says.

Moazzam Ali Jatoi, an official with the Levies Force, which serves as police and paramilitary in the area, says the attack took place near the Machh coal field, about east of the provincial capital Quetta.

Mr Jatoi says armed men took the coal miners to nearby mountains, where they opened fire. He says six of the miners died at the scene and five died on the way to hospital.

He says an initial investigation revealed the attackers identified the miners as being from a Shiite Hazara community and the gunmen took them away for execution, leaving others unharmed.

No group immediately claimed responsibility but banned Sunni extremist organization Lashker-e-Jhangvi has targeted the minority Hazara community in Baluchistan in the past.

Local television footage showed security troops surrounding a desolated mountainous area diverting traffic and guiding ambulances to pick up the bodies.

News of the killings spread quickly among the Hazara community and members took to the streets in Quetta and surrounding areas to protest, blocking roads with burning tyres and tree trunks. Officials quickly closed the affected roads to traffic.

The violence was largely condemned across the country, with prime minister Imran Khan saying the perpetrators would be taken to task and the affected families would be taken care of.

Baluchistan is the scene of a low-level insurgency by Baluch separatist groups who have also targeted non-Baluch workers, but they have no history of attacks on the minority Shiite community.

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