Gunmen in southern Pakistan have killed at least 11 workers at a remote coal mine, officials said Sunday.
The victims of the attack in Baluchistan province were from the minority Shiite Hazara community.
“Dead bodies of the 11 miners have been taken to a local hospital,” Khalid Durrani, a government official in the area, told AFP.
Ethnic Hazara make up most of the Shiite population in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan — the country’s largest and poorest region, rife with ethnic, sectarian and separatist insurgencies.
They are often targeted by Sunni militants, who consider them heretics, though it was unclear why the attackers targeted the coal mine specifically.
The attack, before dawn on Sunday, took place in the far-flung and mountainous Machh area while the miners slept, Durrani said, adding that four other miners were injured and were being treated at the local hospital.
A security official told AFP the attackers first separated the miners, tied their hands and feet, took them out into the hills and later killed them.
Both Durrani and the security official said the victims belonged to the Hazara community.
Durrani said the mine was deep in the mountains.
It was not clear how exactly the miners were killed, he told AFP.
The assailants fled after the attack. Both officials said police and members of the local paramilitary force were on the scene, where a search operation had been launched to trace the attackers.
No group has claimed responsibility.
In a tweet, Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned “the killing of 11 innocent coal miners in Machh” as a “cowardly inhumane act of terrorism”.
Liaqat Shahwani, a spokesman for the provincial government, confirmed the incident and told private TV channel Geo that it was an act of terrorism.
Though Pakistan’s mines are notorious for poor safety standards, such attacks against miners are rare.