ISLAMABAD: At least eight persons, including seven members of the minority Shia Hazara community and a policeman, were killed in three separate incidents of firing in Quetta city of southwest Pakistan on Saturday, officials said.

The first incident occurred on Brewery Road, where gunmen riding a motorcycle ambushed a taxi carrying members of the Hazara community.

Six persons were killed instantly. The attackers managed to escape, police and witnesses said.

In the second incident, gunmen fired at a group of people on Sabzal Road. A Hazara man was killed and another injured, police said.

In yet another incident, a police constable was gunned down in Shalkot area on the outskirts of Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province.

Quetta has been rocked by several incidents of sectarian violence this week.

Members of the Hazara community were the target in most of these incidents and over a dozen Shias have been killed.

Today's killings resulted in tension across Quetta and shops and commercial hubs were closed after the violence.At some places, members of the Hazara community organised protests against the killings.

Several cars were torched outside the hospital where the bodies were taken.

Protestors burnt tyres to block roads and fired in the air at some places. The Hazara Democratic Party called for a strike in Quetta.

Additional policemen and Frontier Corps personnel were deployed to restore peace in the city. Deputy Inspector General of Police Qazi Wahid described today's violence as incidents of "targeted sectarian killings".

Law enforcement personnel cordoned off several areas and launched a search operation to trace the attackers.