QUETTA, Pakistan – Fourteen passengers have been killed after unidentified attackers halted their bus on a remote coastal highway in the restive southwestern Balochistan Province, officials said.
Hours after the ambush on April 18, a new separatist group claimed responsibility for the killings.
The attack sparked national outrage, with Prime Minister Imran Khan calling it “an act of terror.”
Officials and local media said the gunmen forced passengers off the bus, which was traveling from Karachi to Gwadar.
Survivors told police the gunmen selectively killed the passengers after going through their identities. The motive behind the killings is not known.
Mir Zahoor Buledi, a provincial government spokesman, told RFERL's Radio Mashaal on April 18 that the incident took place on the Makran Coastal Highway.
Jehangir Dashti, identified as a local official, told AP that “dozens of gunmen” were involved in the attack.
Security forces from the nearby town of Buzi Top were dispatched and had reached the area, about 600 kilometers from the provincial capital, Quetta, he added.
The Pakistani Navy said its sailors and officers who were travelling to work were also among the slain men.
In a statement, Khan ordered authorities "to make every possible effort to identify and to bring the perpetrators of the barbaric act to justice."
Separatists have for years waged a low-level insurgency in oil-rich Balochistan, complaining of discrimination and demanding a fairer share of the province's resources and wealth.
The newly formed separatist group Baloch Raji Aajoi Sangar claimed responsibility for the attack.
Other militant groups also operate in Balochistan.
On April 12, a suicide bomber targeted an open-air market in Quetta, killing 20 people in an attack claimed by the Islamic State extremist group.
With reporting by AP, Reuters, dpa, and AFP