The violence has pushed Baluchistan deeper into chaos. The province was already facing an armed insurgency by ethnic Baluch separatists who frequently attack security forces and government facilities. Now the secessionist violence has been overtaken by increasingly bold attacks against Shiites.
The sectarian bloodshed adds another layer to the turmoil in Pakistan, where the government is fighting an insurgency by the Pakistani Taliban and where many fear Sunni hard-liners are gaining strength. Shiites and rights group say the government does little to protect Shiites and that militants are emboldened because they are believed to have links to Pakistan's intelligence agencies.
The 21 tribal policemen who were shot dead were found by officials shortly after midnight Sunday in the Jabai area of Frontier Region Peshawar after being notified by one policeman who escaped, said Naveed Akbar Khan, a top political official in the area. Another policeman was found seriously wounded, Khan said.
The 23 policemen went missing before dawn Thursday when militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons attacked two posts in Frontier Region Peshawar. Two policemen were killed in the attacks.
Militants lined the policemen up on a cricket pitch late Saturday night and gunned them down, said another local official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.
Also Sunday, two Pakistani army soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in the North Waziristan tribal area, the main sanctuary for Taliban and al-Qaida militants in the country, security officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with official policy.