Three coal miners were shot dead on Sunday in the Zalawan area of Shahrag, after unidentified armed men opened fire on them.

According to the Balochistan Levies personnel, three miners – Juma Khan, Rehmatullah and Izzatullah – were left dead on the spot when unknown assailants opened fire at Amanullah Taran’s coal mine at Zalawan in Shahrag area of Harnai in the wee hours of Sunday.

The Levies arrived at the scene and began searching for the suspects after shifting the bodies to a hospital.

Expressing condolences over the death of colliers, Provincial Home Adviser Mir Ziaullah Langau asked Deputy Commissioner Harnai district Sohail Hashmi to give a report of the incident.

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n a statement issued here Sunday, Langau directed the authorities concerned to immediately arrest the elements involved in the incident.

Reacting to the tragic event, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari expressed his condolences and demanded that the perpetrators should be immediately brought to justice “as their hands are stained with the blood of poor miners”.

Last month, Balochistan security forces conducted two intelligence-based operations (IBO) in the Mastung and Harnai districts of the province, killing 15 terrorists, including a BLA commander.

In the IBO in Harnai, the security forces killed six terrorists in a shootout in the Jamboro area.

Just a day ago, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) had expressed grave concern over the safety of colliers in Balochistan, saying the condition in which they work is a violation of human rights.

“At least 176 miners were killed and 180 injured in mining accidents in 2021,” HRCP veteran Husain Naqi said while quoting the data of Pakistan Central Mines Labour Federation during a news conference on Friday.

Naqi said the HRCP fact-finding mission is gravely concerned to find that coal miners in Balochistan remain vulnerable to severe human rights violations, adding that they face the additional risk of targeted attacks by non-state actors.

“Given that coal mining is classified internationally as a hazardous occupation, mine owners and contractors must ensure that every mining site has a functioning ambulance service and onsite emergency health worker, and that regular internal safety inspections are carried out,” he stressed.

“With respect to external safety inspections, the fact that only 27 mine inspectors are available to oversee health and safety in over 6,000 mines in the province is also a cause for concern.”

The mission’s findings, he said, reveal that the majority of coal miners were not registered with the Employees’ Old-age Benefits Institution or other social security programmes, adding that this implies that they “are not eligible for employment benefits or pensions, leaving them highly vulnerable once they are no longer able to work”.