Gunmen on motorcycles shot dead four policemen in Pakistan’s separatist-insurgency wracked southwestern Baluchistan province Thursday, officials said.

Pakistan has tightened security in Quetta -- the capital of Baluchistan province -- after a spate of deadly car bombings in 2013 © AFP/File Banaras Khan
Pakistan has tightened security in Quetta — the capital of Baluchistan province — after a spate of deadly car bombings in 2013 © AFP/File Banaras Khan

The shootings took place in the Pashtunabad neighbourhood of the provincial capital Quetta as the police were conducting a patrol in their vehicle.

“Four policemen were martyred when their vehicle came under attack from both sides while passing through Pashtunabad area,” local police official Zahid Shah told AFP.

He said they were rushed to a government hospital where doctors pronounced them dead. Noor Ahmed, the doctor at the hospital confirmed the toll.

“They were dead when brought here,” he said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but Baluch separatists demanding more autonomy and control over the province’s gas and mineral resources have frequently targeted security forces and police for years.

The province, which borders Iran and Afghanistan, is also riven by sectarian strife and Islamist violence.

Resource-rich Baluchistan is the largest of Pakistan’s four provinces, but its roughly seven million inhabitants have long complained they do not receive a fair share of its gas and mineral wealth.