Thousands of miners have stopped work and many have left Balochistan since armed assailants killed 10 Hazara workers at a colliery in the Mach area last month, officials said on Thursday. Labour organisations and government officials said up to 15,000 workers had downed tools since the murder of the Hazara miners, forcing around 200 mines to close and slashing production. More than 100 mines were “still non-functional”, said Abdullah Shehwani, the provincial head of coal mines. More than 40,000 workers toil in hundreds of small mines in Balochistan. Militant groups regularly extort protection money from colliery owners or kidnap workers for ransom. Failure to pay often results in deadly violence. Refugees or economic migrants from Afghanistan make up a big part of the workforce – especially from the marginalised Hazara community. Ten Hazara miners were kidnapped by gunmen from a remote colliery in early January before being taken to nearby hills where most were shot dead, and some beheaded. It prompted huge protests among Hazaras, who make up most of the Shia population in Quetta.