Gunmen stormed a construction site in southwest Pakistan late Friday and killed 20 laborers, shooting the victims at point-blank range.
The attack took place in the restive Gobdan area of Pakistan's Baluchistan province, which has been experiencing a violent insurgency for years. The Baluch Liberation Front (BLF), a separatist group, claimed responsibility for the attack, according to AFP and the Times of India.
The attackers reportedly overpowered the security guards at a labor camp near the construction site for a dam and entered the sleeping quarters there. The attack apparently targeted outsiders: All of the workers were from provinces other than Baluchistan, with 16 hailing from Punjab and four from Sindh. The eight security guards are all from Baluchistan and were unharmed. A BLF spokesman reportedly said the target was the Pakistani army and workers at government construction projects.
Some reports said the laborers were killed in their sleep, but, according to the Times of India, one local police official claimed the workers were lined up and shot after identifying themselves.
The gunmen fled the site and are still at large. Sarfaraz Bugti, the Baluchistan home minister, said government forces are currently hunting down those responsible for the attack, according to the Associated Press. "We need help in this war against terrorists. Alone, we cannot fight," he added.
Baluchistan is home to vast mineral and oil resources and various Baluch nationalist groups, including the BLF, have long been fighting with the Pakistani government for greater control over the province's resource wealth.
Many Baluchistan residents are wary of people who are not local, and this is not the first time that outsiders have been the targets of violence. Similar attacks have targeted the Pakistani government, but Friday's massacre was the deadliest one involving civilians.
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