QUETTA: Gunmen shot and killed nine men after abducting them from a bus in a troubled province in southwestern Pakistan bordering Afghanistan and Iran, officials said on Saturday.

No one has claimed the responsibility for the Friday night attack in Balochistan province in Pakistan's southwest.

Separatist ethnic Baloch militant groups in the mineral-rich region have been fighting for decades against the state, saying it denies them their share of regional resources.

Several gunmen intercepted the Iran-bound bus in Noshki district, taking the nine men with them after determining they were from the eastern province of Punjab, said police officer Abdullah Mengal. “All of them were travelling to Taftan,“ he said.

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The victims were shot at close range, he said.

Their bullet-ridden bodies were found from beneath a bridge after one and a half hour, said the district deputy commissioner, Habibullah Musakhail.

Ethnic Baloch insurgents have previously claimed responsibility for similar killings in the region, which is home to deep-water Gwadar sea port being developed by neighbouring China. The insurgents have also targeted Chinese nationals and their interests.

Beijing has invested heavily in regional development projects as part of its $65 billion pledge under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

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