The bullet-riddled bodies of five Pakistani migrants believed headed for Europe via Iran were found on Saturday in southwest Pakistan, in the same area where 15 bodies were discovered three days earlier, officials said.
The five migrants whose corpses were found in the district of Ketch in Balochistan province near the Iranian border had been killed two days ago, said provincial government spokesman Anwaar ul Haq.
As with the previous 15 they were ethnic Punjabis who were illegally travelling to Iran, he said.
Senior administration official Akbar Harifal said the killings seemed to be the work of separatist groups. The army said a separatist leader believed to have murdered the 15 had been killed.
Baloch separatists have regularly targeted ethnic Punjabi workers, accusing them of exploiting the province.
People-traffickers use the Balochistan route to smuggle workers from Punjab province to European countries via Iran. Some die on the way due to harsh conditions or attacks by Baloch separatists.
The army said troops on Friday killed a Baloch militant commander, Younas Taukali, 25 kilometres (15 miles) north of the area where the bodies of the migrant workers were recovered.
“Terrorist Younas was involved in killing 15 innocent people belonging to Punjab on Nov 15,” an army statement said, adding he had also ambushed security force convoys and killed many civilians.
Balochistan, which borders both Iran and Afghanistan, is afflicted by Islamist militancy and sectarian violence as well as the separatist insurgency.
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