Terrorists have shot dead at least 21 people after abducting about 30 passengers from two Karachi-bound buses in Pakistan's restive Balochistan province, prompting a massive operation by security forces to hunt down the gunmen.
Several terrorists wearing security forces uniforms attacked two buses en route to Karachi from Quetta in Mastung district on Friday night, kidnapping about 30 passengers and later killing at least 21 of them, officials said.
Frontier Corps and Levies personnel launched a massive operation in the Khadkochay area of the Mastung district to hunt down the gunmen and had recovered six passengers from the mountains.
Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti told PTI that unidentified gunmen, around 20 to 25 in number, came in heavy vehicles and stopped two passenger buses. "They got the passengers out of the buses and kidnapped around 30 of them releasing five of them later on but started killing the rest after the (military) operation began," he said.
Bugti said the gunmen had fled into the mountains leaving the bodies behind which were recovered by security forces and rescue teams. "We are still searching for four persons who were injured by the kidnappers," he said.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack but security forces suspect Baloch separatists were involved in the attack.
A survivor told a TV channel that the militants verified the ethnicity of kidnapped men through national identity cards and killed the Pashtun passengers while sparing the Baloch. Meanwhile, Bugti also alleged that India's intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing was involved in the killings.
He said the "designs of the enemy" would be foiled as both the ethnic groups of the province understand the "real intention behind the killing".
Pakistani officials and the army have recently blamed RAW several times for allegedly supporting groups creating instability in the country. They have alleged that it was part of efforts to derail the Chinese investment in Pakistan.
Last week, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that enemies of Pakistan were trying to harm the US $45 billion China- Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Relatives of those killed and kidnapped in Friday's incident have been staging a sit-in outside the Governor House in Quetta, demanding justice and a military operation in the province. The buses were going to Karachi after picking up passengers in Quetta and Pishin and carried mostly people from outside the province.