Gunmen shot dead 26 Pakistani Shiite Muslim pilgrims travelling to Iran on Tuesday, the deadliest attack on the minority community in Pakistan for more than a year, a local official said.
There are fears the death toll may yet rise further after the attack in Mastung, a district 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of Quetta, the capital of the Baluchistan province, the local deputy commissioner Saeed Imrani told AFP.
"Armed men stopped, then opened fire on their bus," Imrani told AFP identifying all the dead as Shiite pilgrims. "The death toll has risen to 26. At least six people were wounded, four of them are in a critical condtion," he added, after earlier saying 20 died.
Baluchistan is a flashpoint for sectarian violence between Pakistan's majority Sunni Muslims and minority Shiites. The province is also experiencing a surge in violence linked to a separatist insurgency and Taliban militants.
Local separatists rose up in 2004, demanding political autonomy and a greater share of profits from the region's natural resources.
It was the deadliest attack on Shiites in Pakistan since September 4, 2010 when a suicide bomber killed at least 57 people at a Shiite rally in Quetta.