Quetta/Rahimyar Khan - A large group of gunmen on Saturday attacked a work camp near the construction site of a dam in Gobdan area of district Turbat, overpowered eight security guards and shot dead 20 sleeping labourers before fleeing.
The workers killed at the construction site 15 kms from the town of Turbat were mostly from outside Balochistan which suggested the Baloch rebels were responsible, said Balochistan Minister Akbar Hussain Durrani. "All were sleeping in their camp when they were targeted," he said.
Three wounded survivors said the gunmen opened fire on the sleeping men with automatic weapons, then escaped on motorcycles, he said.
A man claiming to be a spokesman for the banned Baluch Liberation Army called local reporters and said his group had carried out the attack as a reprisal for military operations in the area.
Makran Division Commissioner Pasand Khan Buledi said 16 of the dead were from Punjab and four were from Sindh. He said the eight guards, all from Balochistan, were unharmed in the attack.
Commissioner Buledi said over 50 men attacked the workers camp at 1:30 am.
Armed men arriving on motorbikes woke the labourers from their sleep before opening fire on them. Sixteen of the victims were residents of Sadiqabad area of Punjab and four were from Sindh's Hyderbad city.
The bodies were shifted to DHQ Hospital in Turbat for autopsy.
Buledi said that the labourers were working on a bridge at Sohrab Dam.
DPO Turbat Imran Qureshi told media that the incident appeared to be an act of targeted killing. All the victims received multiple bullet injuries, he added. He further said  no levies personnel was harmed as they did not resist. He pointed out "it was an area  administered by the levies."
A senior administration official said the labourers were lined up and shot after the terrorists asked for their identity. He said the security personnel guarding the camp fled when confronted by a large number of attackers.
According to TV reports, all the eight security guards were arrested for failing to protect the workforce at the dam site.
Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch rushed to Turbat to take stock of the situation. The chief minister directed authorities to arrest the attackers and announced Rs 1m as compensation for the families of each victim. Rs 50,000 will also be provided to people injured in the attack.
A massive search operation for arresting miscreants was underway and an army helicopter was also being used for it.
RAW-BACKED GROUPS INVOLVED IN TURBAT MASSACRE: MINISTER
Talking to media persons at Shaikh Zayed International Airport in Rahimyar Khan Balochistan Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti said the groups supported by RAW are involved in the Turbat massacre.
Bugti said the Balochistan government was sending the dead bodies and injured to Rahimyar Khan. He said Finance Minister Mir Khalid Langoo, Information Minister Abdur Rahim Ziaratwala and spokesperson for Balochistan CM Khan Buledi are here to participate in the funeral prayers of the deceased labourers.
He claimed the terrorist groups took money and training from the enemies and killed Pakistanis. He warned terrorist groups that his government will chase them down.
Answering a question, Bugti said his government is treating ethnic terrorism like sectarian terrorism. “We want to resolve this conflict with dialogue, but if they start violence, we will react,” he warned. He further said that an operation has been started in Turbat, but it should not be considered as an army operation. He averred his government is going to review the security plan. He said eight guards appointed for the security of labourers had been arrested.
Sarfraz Bugti told private TV channels that Frontier Corps was searching in the nearby mountains for the attackers.
“We will chase them down and brought them to justice,” Bugti said. “We need help in this war against terrorists. Alone, we cannot fight.”
Sarfraz Bugti admitted negligence on the part of security personnel, and said that action will be taken against those who were found responsible for not responding to the attackers on time.