QUETTA - Two people from the Hazara community were shot dead on Saturday in a sectarian attack in Quetta, where there has been a renewed wave of attacks on minorities and security forces.

Quetta was also rocked by three suicide bombings aimed at police and paramilitary soldiers on Tuesday. Six police were killed and 15 members of the security forces wounded in those bombings, raising fears over fragile security in Balochistan.

In Saturday’s attack, two men who were relatives were targeted at their electronics shop in a busy shopping area on Jamaluddin Afghani Road of Quetta, police said. The attackers then fled on a motorcycle.

“It is a sectarian killing,” senior police officer Abdullah Afridi told Reuters. Both men died on the spot after suffering multiple bullet wounds, he said.

The assailants managed to escape from the scene after the attack, while bodies of the deceased identified as Jaffar and Muhammad Ali were shifted to Civil Hospital in Quetta.

Police and personnel of other law enforcement agencies reached the site as an investigation into the incident was underway. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.

It was the third attack on the minority Hazara community this month. Two Hazara men were killed in a similar attack last Sunday.

TV channels reported a protest by shopkeepers and other people in the area after Saturday’s attack.

Activists of the Hazara Democratic Party staged the protest against the killings. They set tyres alight, chanted slogans against the administration and demanded immediate arrest of the culprits.

The Hazara community also staged a sit-in protest over the violence earlier this month.

Hazaras are frequently targeted by Taliban, Islamic State and other Sunni militant groups for their religious beliefs in both Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan.

Hundreds of Hazaras fled to Pakistan during decades of conflict in Afghanistan and nearly half a million now live in and around Quetta. Three separate bombings killed more than 200 people in Hazara neighbourhoods in 2013, raising international awareness of the plight of the community.

 

The violence in Balochistan has fuelled concern about security for projects in the $57 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor, a transport and energy link planned to run from western China to deepwater port of Gwadar.

Two suicide bombers stormed a packed church in Quetta in December, killing at least 10 people and wounding up to 56. That attack was claimed by Islamic State.