Baluchistan, Pakistan
Baluchistan, Pakistan

ISLAMABAD - Suspected separatist militants ambushed a bus in southwestern Pakistan before dawn Thursday and killed 14 passengers, mostly navy personnel.

Witnesses and authorities reported the bus was stopped in a remote area on the coastal highway linking the Pakistani port cities of Karachi and Gwadar.

A group of about two dozen assailants disguised as paramilitary forces went through identification cards of all the passengers before forcing 16 of them out and spraying them with bullets.

Two of the hostages managed to escape in the process and reached the nearest security check post to report the incident, a local security official, Jehangir Dashti, told VOA.

Insurgents claim responsibility

A Pakistan Navy spokesman later confirmed its personnel were among the slain men but gave no further details.

An alliance of three ethnic Baluch separatist groups, known as Bras’ (meaning brothers in local language), took responsibility for the violence in Baluchistan province.

The insurgents routinely carry out attacks against government installations and security forces in the natural resource-rich Pakistani region.

Khan: act of terror

Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned Thursday’s carnage as “the dastardly act of terror.” An official statement quoted him as directing authorities “to make every possible effort to identify and bring the perpetrators of the barbaric act to justice.”

Baluchistan hosts several under construction Chinese-funded infrastructure projects, including the deep-water Arabian Sea port in Gwadar.

Last week, a powerful bomb ripped through a market in Quetta, the provincial capital, killing 20 people and wounding more than 50 others. Police said that attack was aimed at minority ethnic Hazara Shiite Muslims. Loyalists of Islamic State terrorist outfit, who are also active in Baluchistan, claimed responsibility for plotting the bomb attack.