Pakistani police are searching for gunmen who killed nine people after abducting them from a bus on a road in the south west, after earlier killing two more people and wounding six in a car.

The abduction took place on Friday in Baluchistan province, which has long been the scene of an insurgency by separatists fighting for independence.

Deputy Commissioner Habibullah Mosakhail said on Saturday that the gunmen set up a blockade, then stopped the bus and went through the passengers’ ID cards. They took nine people with them, all from the eastern Punjab province, and fled into the mountains, he said.

Pakistan Violence
Hospital staff and volunteers unload a coffin from an ambulance in Quetta (Arshad Butt/AP)

The bus was heading from the provincial capital of Quetta to Taftan, a town bordering Iran.

Police later recovered nine bodies under a bridge about three miles from the road.

Earlier on Friday, the same gunmen had opened fire at a vehicle that failed to stop for their blockade, killing two and wounding six.

A search for the perpetrators is under way, Mr Mosakhail said.

Passenger Sajjad Ahmed said there were 70 people on the bus. Masked men stopped the vehicle near the city of Nushki, took away nine people and told the driver to continue the journey, he told reporters.

“We heard the armed men open fire on those people as we drove away,” said Mr Ahmed. “We heard the sounds of firing. The driver took the bus to the closest police station. We didn’t know if those people were alive or not.”

Pakistan Violence
Hospital staff gather at a hospital in Quetta (Arshad Butt/AP)

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the attack, expressing his “deep sorrow and regret over this shocking incident”.

He offered his condolences to the families of the victims and said he stood by them in their hour of grief, according to a statement from his office.

“The perpetrators of this incident of terrorism and their facilitators will be punished,” he added.

Abductions are rare in Baluchistan, where militants usually target police forces and soldiers or infrastructure.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the killings. Police said there was no ransom demand and no indication of a motive.

Although the government says it has quelled the insurgency, violence in the province has persisted.