QUETTA - Four policemen were killed on Thursday in Quetta’s Pashtunabad area when unidentified assailants opened fire on a police mobile.

The armed motorcyclists opened indiscriminate firing at a patrolling police mobile in the Manan Chowk area of Pashtunabad. Police said the assailants sped away on their motorcycles.

Police said two cops died on the spot, while two others succumbed to their injuries on the way to Civil Hospital in Quetta. A heavy contingent of police and Frontier Corps personnel reached the scene of the crime.

“Four policemen were martyred when their vehicle came under attack from both sides while passing through Pashtunabad area,” local police official Zahid Shah told media.

“It was first time that eight police men have been killed by armed men in just one week,” said Quetta police chief Abdul Razzak Cheema. “One of the police got down from the police pickup and tried to retaliate, but was killed on the spot.”

He said they were rushed to a government hospital where doctors pronounced them dead. Noor Ahmed, the doctor at the hospital confirmed the toll.

“They were dead when brought here,” he said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but the insurgents demanding more autonomy and control over the province’s gas and mineral resources have frequently targeted security forces and police for years.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the attacks on police officials in Quetta on Thursday. He deplored the loss of lives and sought a report into the incident. The PM also directed authorities to apprehend the criminals at the earliest.

The attack comes a week after four policemen were killed on Pashtunabad’s Mullah Salam Road while on a routine patrol. A crackdown was launched in the aftermath of last week’s Pashtunabad gun attack on Saturday.

Police on Sunday claimed to have arrested 33 suspects during various raids in the area.

The province, which borders Iran and Afghanistan, is also plagued by sectarian strife and violence.

Resource-rich Balochistan is the largest of four provinces, but its roughly seven million inhabitants have long complained they do not receive a fair share of its gas and mineral wealth.

The nuclear-armed nation of 190 million people is battling a Taliban insurgency, rising sectarian violence and violent criminal gangs. The poorly equipped and trained police are frequent targets.