Members of Shiite Hazara community protest in Quetta on January 3, 2021

Baluchistan is Pakistan's largest and poorest region and rife with a violent freedom struggle against Pakistani occupation

Gunmen killed at least 11 mine workers at a remote coal mine in Baluchistan on Sunday. The victims of the attack were from the minority Shiite Hazra community. The ethnic Hazra community make up most of the Shiite population in Quetta, the capital in Baluchistan. The region is Pakistan's largest and poorest region and rife with insurgency and violence.

"Dead bodies of the 11 miners have been taken to a local hospital," Khalid Durrani, a government official in the area, told AFP.

The attack took place before dawn on Sunday in far-flung and mountainous Machh area when the miners slept. Four injured miners are being treated at a local hospital.

A security official told AFP the attackers first separated the miners, tied their hands and feet, took them out into the hills and later killed them. 

Both Durrani and the security official said the victims belonged to the Hazara community.

Durrani said the mine was deep in the mountains.

It was not clear how exactly the miners were killed, he told AFP.

The assailants fled after the attack. Both officials said police and members of the local paramilitary force were on the scene, where a search operation had been launched to trace the attackers.

No Group Has Claimed Responsibility.

In a tweet, Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned "the killing of 11 innocent coal miners in Machh" as a "cowardly inhumane act of terrorism".

Liaqat Shahwani, a spokesman for the provincial government, confirmed the incident and told private TV channel Geo that it was an act of terrorism.

Though Pakistan's mines are notorious for poor safety standards, such attacks against miners are rare.