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Eleven coalmine workers were killed and four others were seriously injured after armed men on Sunday opened fire at them at Machh coal field in Balochistan’s Bolan district. Police said armed men took the coal miners to nearby mountains where they shot them. At least 11 were confirmed dead and the injured were said to be in critical condition.

The wounded coal mine workers were taken to Machh Hospital for treatment.

After news of the incident broke, police and Frontier Corps (FC) personnel arrived at the coal mine.

Moazzam Ali Jatoi, an official with the Levies Force, said an initial investigation revealed the attackers identified the miners as being from the Hazara community and took them away for execution, leaving others unharmed.

Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility the attack, through its Amaq news agency via its Telegram communications channel. Police video of the bodies revealed the miners were blindfolded and their hands tied behind their backs before being shot.

Local television footage showed security forces working in a mountainous area to traffic and guide ambulances to the bodies.

Speaking to Geo News, Balochistan government spokesman Liaquat Shahwani said the incident was an act of terrorism. “Investigative institutions are probing the incident from every angle to determine who is responsible for this,” he added.

Terrorist activities in Balochistan are on the rise, Shahwani said, adding that the Levies personnel are present in the area to provide security. “(Law and order in the area) was satisfactory; hence, this incident wasn’t expected,” he said, adding that the area where the killings took place was quite large.

The Balochistan government official said security in the area would be increased after assessing the situation. He vowed that those responsible for the incident would be brought to the book.

Speaking about the tragic incident, Balochistan Interior Minister Mir Ziaullah Langau said it was an incident of sectarian terrorism. “We are mourning today on the killing of poor (labourers).

“Irrespective of the sect, race and religion, our innocent brothers were targeted. The evils behind the tragedy will be unveiled soon,” he said.

The Hazara community, as well as other political parties, launched protests over the massacre, blocking several roads in the provincial capital. The Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) staged a sit-in at Quetta’s Western Bypass, demanding the Balochistan government either arrest the terrorists responsible for the Machh massacre or resign. MWM leader Syed Muhammad Agha Raza said Prime Minister Imran Khan should come to Quetta to meet with and reassure the bereaved families of the victims.

The Hazara community staged a separate protest, taking to the Western Bypass to mourn the incident and voice their grievances.

President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan, Interior Minister Shaikh Rashid, Information Minister Shibli Faraz, Balochistan Governor Amanullah Khan Yasinzai, TNFJ chief Agha Hamid Ali Moosavi and other leaders condemned the murder of coal miners and said the culprits behind such acts would not escape punishment.

They prayed to Almighty Allah to rest the departed souls in eternal peace and grant courage to bereaved families to bear the loss with equanimity. Prime Minister Imran Khan referred to the incident as a “cowardly inhumane act of terrorism”.

“Have asked the FC to use all resources to apprehend these killers and bring them to justice,” the premier said on Twitter.

“The families of the victims will not be left abandoned by the govt,” he vowed.

Taking notice of the Machh coalfield incident, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal expressed sorrow over the loss of lives and sought a report from the concerned authorities. Jam Kamal also directed the authorities to spare no effort in arresting those responsible for the terrorist attack, vowing the elements involved in terrorist incidents would be brought to justice.

The chief minister also directed for the best possible medical treatment for the injured and prayed for their speedy recovery.

Minister for Interior Shaikh Rashid sought a report into the tragic incident from Inspector General Balochistan. In a tweet, the minister said terrorists would not succeed in their nefarious designs and those involved in this heinous act deserve no leniency.