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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Mastung tragedy: Death toll rises to 22 as relatives end sit-in

By Mohammad Zafar Published: May 30, 2015 QUETTA: The death toll of the horrific Mastung massacre that took place in late Friday night has risen to 22, after Balochistan Levies found another body this morning. A large number of people including relatives of the victims of the Mastung tragedy staged a sit-in in front of the Governor House to protest the brutal kidnapping and butchering of the bus passengers. According to reports, the protesters also laid down dead bodies of 16 people in front of the governor’s residence. The protesters also tried to enter the CM house but were pushed back by the police when they started shelling. The protesters later agreed to bury their relatives after they spoke with Chief Minister Balochistan Abdul Malik Baloch. “Security forces are taking action against the culprits,” he told protesters. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also telephoned CM Balochistan and told him that an All Parties Conference will be held in Quetta some time next week to discuss how to promote peace in the region. In the wee hours of Saturday, Frontier Corps (FC) officials carried out a search operation in the mountainous regions of Khad Khocha and the adjoining areas of Mastung. According to a press release issued by the FC, 200 FC officials are taking part in the search operation and are being provided with helicopters along with help from the special op wing. Read: Militants kill 19 passengers in Mastung after forcing them off bus During the operation, two miscreants were killed and ammunition was recovered from them. “Every aspect of terrorism will be eliminated from the area,” an FC spokesperson said. In a grisly execution-style attack, twenty passengers were lined up and shot dead by unidentified gunmen after being pulled off two buses in Balochistan’s Mastung district. Coming from the Pashtun-dominated area of Pishin, the two Karachi-bound buses were intercepted and stopped in Gidrang near Mastung district’s Kadocha area by as many as 40 gunmen around 9:00pm, according to security forces and Balochistan home department officials. “At least 25 passengers were forced off the buses at gunpoint,” a senior home department official said. Read: FC kill 5 suspected militants in Mastung search operation “The gunmen killed at least 19 passengers and wounded one,” Balochistan Home Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani told reporters after the grisly incident. The sole injured passenger later died of his wounds. “None of them [the victims] were settlers or Shia,” Durrani said. His statement was confirmed later by Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti who said all of the victims were ‘Pashtun’. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack but Baluch separatists demanding greater autonomy have been waging an insurgency for years and the province is also riven by sectarian strife and violence.

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