Suspected militants kill 7 in Pak

Suspected militants on Thursday shot dead five members of the minority Shia community and two employees of a UN agency in two separate attacks in the restive Balochistan province of southwest Pakistan.

Suspected militants riding a motorcycle opened fire at a van in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, killing five persons, police said. Shia groups said all those killed belonged to the minority community and described the attack as an incident of target killing.

Police said the slain persons were heading to work when the van was attacked at Spini Road.  Doctors said a woman was among those killed in the incident. Police said six persons were injured in the attack. They were shifted to two hospitals in Quetta. At least one of the injured was in a critical condition, doctors said.

The gunmen fled after the attack. No group claimed responsibility for the incident. Police officials said they suspected the involvement of extremist groups. In a separate incident, suspected militants attacked a vehicle of the Food and Agriculture Organisation in Mastung town on Thursday morning and killed two of its employees.

Another employee of the UN agency sustained serious injuries in the attack police said. The motive behind the attack could not immediately be ascertained. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Following the attack on the Shias in Quetta, angry people took to the streets and staged a demonstration on the busy Barori Road. The protesters blocked traffic on the road.

The protesters shouted slogans against the government and police for failing to prevent target attacks. Two Shia groups announced three days of mourning to condemn the attack. The Tahafuz Azadari Council and Hazara Democratic Party also called for a strike in Quetta on Friday and warned of more protests if the killers were not arrested.

Balochistan has been rocked by a wave of sectarian and targeted killings in recent months.

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