Six killed in Pakistan suspected ethnic attack

Published : 09 May 2024 09:37 PM

Six migrant workers were shot dead in southwestern Pakistan, police said Thursday, in a region where militants have long waged ethnic violence against outsiders.

The men were killed late Wednesday at their home, 25 kilometres (15 miles) from Gwadar in Balochistan province where major Chinese investment has funded a deepwater port.

Police said the men, who had migrated to the region and were working as barbers, were likely targeted for being Punjabi, the most populous and influential ethnic group in Pakistan. "We are investigating the matter at the moment but apparently it looks like they were attacked because they were Punjabis," said Muhammad Mohsin, a senior police official in Gwadar, adding that six were killed and one was injured.

A second police official Zohaib Ahmad confirmed the death toll and said they were shot dead inside their home. Balochistan is Pakistan's largest but poorest province, despite an abundance of natural resources.

Militants have in the past targeted ethnic Punjabis and Sindhis, as well as foreign interests that they believe are exploiting the impoverished region without sharing its riches.

Punjabis in particular are perceived to dominate the ranks of the military which is locked in a battle to quash Balochistan's armed factions.

Last month 11 Punjabi labourers were killed in the region when six gunmen stopped a bus near the city of Naushki in Balochistan province.

Beijing is Islamabad's closest regional ally, frequently offering financial assistance to support its often-struggling neighbour and pouring more than $2 trillion into infrastructure projects.

The security of Chinese workers, however, is a major concern to both countries.