Karachi: At least 10 labourers working on a road project near Pakistan’s strategic Gwadar port in the restive Balochistan province were shot dead by gunmen today.
Gwadar Deputy Commissioner Naeem Bazai said the labourers worked on a road project and were from Sindh province. Eight of the labourers died on the spot while two succumbed on their way to hospital, Dawn newspaper reported.
The gunmen fled the scene after the attack. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but such attacks have become common in the mineral-rich province plagued by separatist insurgency since 2004. Suspected separatists often target non-native labourers in the province. Last month, four Sindhi labourers were gunned down by suspected militants in Kharan district.
Balochistan’s Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti confirmed the death toll. Condemning the incident, he said, “We will not bow down before terrorists.” Frontier Corps, police and Levies personnel have reached the spot and an investigation was underway.
The attack comes a day after a suicide bombing targeted a convoy of Deputy Chairman Senate Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri. The attack in Mustang killed 26 people. Today’s attack happened near the Gwadar port, built with Chinese funding, as Pakistan and China ink agreements at the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing to boost bilateral cooperation.
The deep-water port has a strategic importance for the Belt and Road initiative, a part of which – the USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – connects Pakistan’s southern region to China’s western Xinjiang region through rail and roads.
The CPEC is billed as a ‘game-changer’ and manifestation of strategic partnership between Pakistan and China. Pakistan has deployed a Maritime Security Force and Special Security Division to protect projects under CPEC, including Gwadar. The forces have been deployed to ensure safety of locals and foreigners working on the projects.