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Pakistani police search for gunmen who abducted bus passengers and killed 11 in the southwest

QUETTA (AP) – Pakistani police searched for gunmen who killed nine people after abducting them from a bus on a highway in the country’s southwest. The same attackers earlier killed two people and wounded six in another car they forced to stop.

The abduction took place on Friday in Baluchistan province.

Deputy Commissioner Habibullah Mosakhail said Saturday that the gunmen set up a blockade, then stopped the bus and went through the passengers’ ID cards. They took nine people with them, all from the eastern Punjab province, and fled into the mountains, he said.

Police later recovered nine bodies under a bridge about five kilometres from the highway. Earlier on Friday, the same gunmen had opened fire at a vehicle that failed to stop for their blockade, killing two and wounding six.

A search for the perpetrators was underway, Mosakhail said. The bus was heading from the provincial capital of Quetta to Taftan, a town bordering Iran.

Passenger Sajjad Ahmed said there were 70 people on the bus. Masked men stopped the bus near the city of Nushki, took away nine people and told the driver to continue the journey, he told reporters.

“We heard the armed men open fire on those people as we drove away,” said Ahmed. “We heard the sounds of firing. The driver took the bus to the closest police station. We didn’t know if those people were alive or not.”

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the attack, expressing his “deep sorrow and regret over this shocking incident”. He offered his condolences to the families of the victims and said he stood by them in their hour of grief, according to a statement from his office.

“The perpetrators of this incident of terrorism and their facilitators will be punished,” Sharif said.

Ambulance carry bodies of people who were killed by gunmen, arrives at a hospital in Quetta, Pakistan. PHOTO: AP