QUETTA – There seems to be no one brave enough in Balochistan government or the security set-up to come forward and stop the ongoing slaughter of Hazara people as gunmen on Saturday shot dead nine people including seven Shias in Quetta.

With no let-up in sectarian killings in the provincial capital, seven people belonging to Hazara community were killed. In the ensuing violence, two members of Baloch ethnic group were killed while seven others were injured. The killing of Hazaras, who belong to Shia sect, triggered violent riots in different parts of the city where angry mobs ransacked houses and resorted to firing creating panic throughout the city.

The protestors took the dead bodies outside the office of the UNHCR and staged a demonstration against the targeted killing of Hazara community while Hazara Democratic Party (HDP) announced a three-day mourning and a complete shutter down strike on Sunday.

Five residents of Hazara town had gone to Hazara Ganji fruit market in the city outskirts for purchasing vegetables when armed men sprayed bullets on their vehicle, killing all of them on the spot. However, some other sources said that the five deceased were waiting for bus after purchasing vegetables when armed men opened indiscriminate fire on them.

The second incident too occurred in Hazara Ganji locality, at a bus stop, where two men from Hazara community who were waiting for Taftan-bound bus were shot dead by armed men. Eyewitnesses said that the attackers were riding a motorbike and fled the scene after the killings.

Shalkot Police Station House Officer Liaquat Ali confirmed to this scribe that all the seven people belonged to Hazara community and they were killed on the spot. Their bodies were moved to Bolan Medical Complex for medico-legal formalities, he added. Police and other law enforcement agencies reached at the sites and cordoned off the area. The deceased were identified as Ali Baba, Jawad, Muhammad Ali, Nuroz, Raza, Noor Ali and Aziz Ali.

The killings triggered violent riots as the news spread in the city. Thousands of people belonging to Hazara community rushed to hospital and blocked the Western Bypass by placing barricades and torching used tyres to protest the killings.

Some unruly protesters entered the hospital and tortured doctors and paramedical staff creating immense difficulties for the hospital staff to continue to their work. Also, eleven persons, mostly Balochi speaking people, got injured as the violent riots spread in different areas of the city. Two of the injured later succumbed to their injuries. One of them was identified as Tariq Marri. Some armed protesters also kept firing Baloch populated areas near the Brewery Road.

Later, different groups belonging to Baloch speaking tribes also blocked main Sabzal Road by placing stones and used tyres. They were protesting over the killing of the members of their community and firing on the houses of Hazaras. Resultantly, two Hazaras namely Sher Abbass and Mujtaba received bullet injuries. Seven non-Hazaras who got injured were Assistant Sub Inspector Khadim, Qasim, Fareedon, Liaqat, Hafeez, Muhammad Shafi and Abdul Jaleel.

The protesters led by a notable, Sardar Sadat Hazara, received the dead bodies from Bolan Medical College and wanted to take them to the Governor House for a sit-in. But due to the tension prevailing in the adjoining area, they staged a sit-in outside UNHCR office. They placed the dead bodies there and kept protesting for an hour. Later they dispersed peacefully. Different organisations of Hazara community announced three-day mourning against the killings.

Sardar Sadat Hazara while talking to the media condemned the killing of Hazaras and criticised the government for not providing them security. He said that how the situation of Balochistan would improve when Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani spent only three days in a month in Quetta. He said that terrorists had been threatening the Hazaras and asking them to leave Balochistan. Why should they leave, he questioned, adding that they would not do that what may come.

Separately, the activists of HDP also took out a rally and staged a demonstration outside office of Inspector General Police and chanted slogans against the brutal murder of Hazara people. Giving a shutterdown strike call in Quetta on Sunday (today), HDP leaders condemned the unending series of killings of Hazara people and appealed humanitarian organisations to play their role in this regard.

They criticised provincial government for its failure to provide security to the people and warned that if target killings were not stopped a civil war would start. Tahafuz-e-Azadari Council also announced a seven-day mourning against the killings of Shia Hazaras.

Condemning the killing of Hazaras, Balochistan National Party (Mengal) demanded the rulers tender resignations. The party said the government had miserably failed to ensure security to the people.

Meanwhile, the Balochistan government has given police powers to Frontier Corps (FC) for maintaining peace in Quetta.

According to an official handout issued by the provincial home department on Saturday, on the directives of Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani the FC had been given police powers for two months under 131-A section of CrPC in the wake of deteriorating law and order situation in Quetta.

The main objective of this step was to assist police and civil administration in effective enforcement of law for protection of people and their property.