ISLAMABAD - Authorities said Wednesday they found “bullet-riddled” bodies of the men, with ages ranging from 20 to 32 years, from an isolated mountainous part of the remote Turbat district on the border with Iran.
A senior district administration official, Darmoon Bawani, told VOA security forces have launched a search operation in the area, but no arrests have been made in connection with the killings.
Bawani said the victims appeared to be economic migrants from the country’s most populous province of Punjab who were trying to illegally enter Iran for onward journey to European destinations.
Hours later on Wednesday, unknown gunmen a motorcycle intercepted and opened fire on a vehicle carrying a senior police officer and his family members in the Baluchistan's provincial capital, Quetta.
Police said the attack killed Deputy Superintendent Ilyas Jan and his son, and added the slain officer’s wife, daughter in law and granddaughter received life-threatening injures.
Baluchistan is central to a China-funded mega project of building rail, road, energy and communication networks in Pakistan.
The natural-resource rich province has been for years in the grip of a low-level insurgency led by ethnic Baluch militants. Lately, religious extremists and militants linked to Syria-based Islamic State also have stepped up attacks in Baluchistan.
Islamabad alleges rival India is behind the militant violence to try to scuttle the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor known as CPEC.
The latest attack occurred a day after a top Pakistani army general accused the Indian intelligence agency, RAW, of running a so-called “Baluchistan operational cell" in the province "to devise a radical force” for subversive and terrorist activities.
“RAW has established a new cell with a special allocation of over $500 million in 2015 to scuttle CPEC projects,” claimed the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC), General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, while addressing an international conference Tuesday in Islamabad.
While New Delhi has not yet commented on the Pakistani assertions, it has previously denied allegations of its involvement in Baluchistan or elsewhere in the country.