QUETTA: At least 14 soldiers, including a major of the Frontier Corps, were killed when militants armed with sophisticated weapons attacked their convoy near a coalfield in Musa Khel, on Sunday night.
The banned Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) has claimed responsibility for the attack. The incident took place near Bahlol Basti and Kingari in Musa Khel district where a coalmine project was inaugurated by Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani recently.
A BLA spokesman, who identified himself as Azad Baloch, has claimed that 40 FC personnel and one attacker were killed in the clash. Calling from an unspecified location, he warned that attacks would continue in the future.
A unit of the paramilitary FC was sent for providing security cover for the project. Armed men opened fire on the FC convoy a few kilometres from Bahlol Basti, a FC spokesperson said in a statement. Loralai Scouts were responsible for the project’s security, but the FC was sent on the request of residents to provide additional security for the project, he said. The FC was sent for maintenance of peace and order when it was attacked by hostile elements, reads the statement.
There were other incidents of assault by militants. According to sources, FC personnel were engaged in setting up a checkpost near Kingari and Bahal when scores of militants laid siege and opened indiscriminate firing on FC troops. Militants fired 30 rockets on FC checkposts in Kohlu, according to the FC spokesperson. Assailants also opened fire on other checkposts and fled from the scene after retaliatory firing by FC personnel. No casualty was reported in either attack, he said.
The FC termed the attacks acts of ‘cowardice’ and said the soldiers’ sacrifice would not go in vain. “Terrorists will be brought to book and will not be allowed to fulfill their nefarious designs.”
According to sources, security forces have mounted a massive manhunt in the area after the attacks. Banned Baloch militant groups, struggling for complete liberation of Balochistan, often target security forces, police and economic installations in the province.
The deceased army major was identified as Muhammad Amir Shahzad. The slain personnel include Subedar Dawood, Hawaldar Ghafoor, Lance Naik Makram, Sepoy Muhammad Taufiq, Mira Jan, Ghulam, Sarwar, Mubullah, Zubair Ahmed, Abdul Nabi and Muhammad Asif.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2011.