Rise in target killings adds to Balochistan unrest
* Police say sectarian and ethnic targeted killings in Balochistan have claimed 87 lives and injured 303 people in 168 incidents so far this year
QUETTA: Targeted killings happen so often in Quetta that they have become almost a routine. Assassins drive up, fire a hail of bullets and melt into shadows as their victims bleed to death.
Heading to and from work, or nipping to the shops, fear grips professional men and women in Balochistan, where a sharp increase in assassinations is being blamed on separatist militants.
An upsurge in killings threatens to ignite the southwestern tinderbox, with possible consequences for neighbouring Iran and Afghanistan, and heavyweight allies China and the United States.
Last week, Nazima Talib became the most high-profile female victim, shot dead at point blank range as she got into a rickshaw to go home after another long day teaching mass communication at Balochistan University.
A mother of one, she was the third member of staff killed in the past two years. Now others wonder whether they will return home at the end of a day’s work.
Lives: Police say sectarian and ethnic targeted killings in Balochistan have claimed 87 lives and injured 303 people in 168 incidents so far this year.
The killings embarrass the police, who concede that none of the assassins has been arrested, have forced some teachers to flee and fanned insecurity.
Hundreds of people have died since Baloch militants rose up in 2004 demanding independence and control of profits from natural resources in their region.
For decades, its people have felt excluded or marginalised by the central government and the province has long been a fertile breeding ground for Taliban and al Qaeda-linked terrorists as well as separatist militants.
The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), a banned group fighting for an independent Balochistan, claimed responsibility for Talib’s death, threatened more killings and accused security forces of mistreating Baloch women.
The group says its assassinations of Punjabis avenge the deaths of Baloch militants and civilians at the hands of the military, whose ranks and top brass are dominated by Punjab.
Although the weak civilian government has sponsored a reconciliation process with Baloch nationalists, it has limited control over the powerful military, blamed for the disappearance of hundreds of Baloch activists. afp