Gunmen stormed a coast guard checkpoint in the coastal district of Gwadar on Saturday morning, killing at least eight personnel and injuring another three.
“Coast guard personnel stopped three pick-up trucks for routine checking at the Peshi Kan check post, around 40 kilometres away from Gwadar city. The occupants of the trucks, however, opened fire on the coast guard personnel,” Rehmat Dashti, the assistant commissioner of Gwadar, said.
He confirmed that eight coast guard personnel were killed and three others were wounded in the attack.
Sources in Peshi Kan gave a different account though. “Three pick-up trucks approached the Peshi Kan checkpoint, which is a 12-room complex,” a source told The Express Tribune by phone.
“While coast guard personnel were searching one truck for illegal would-be migrants – the two other trucks were parked by the roadside at a distance,” the source added.
Gunmen riding in the two trucks spread out and started shooting at the checkpoint. The attackers also fired rocket-propelled grenades, sources added. The suddenness of the assault caught the coast guard personnel off guard and they could not retaliate in time.
Eight security officials – including two Havaldars and a wireless operator – were killed and four wounded in the attack. The gunmen, while fleeing, also took away the official weapons of the slain security officials.
The casualties were driven to the Liaquat Battalion Headquarters in Gwadar before being airlifted to Karachi for treatment.
A heavy contingent of troops from the paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) and Pakistan Coast Guard rushed to the scene after the attack. A manhunt has been launched for the attackers – but officials were clueless as to who the attackers were and what their motive was.
The Balochistan Levies, the local tribal police, have no knowledge of the incident because security forces do not keep the force in the loop on operational matters.
A purported spokesperson for the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) claimed responsibility for the attack in a phone call to Quetta-based journalists.
Peshi Kan is a sub-tehsil of Jiwani tehsil which is some 40 kilometres away from Gwadar city, the winter capital of Balochistan. Fishing is the mainstay of the local economy.
Balochistan suffers from Taliban militancy, sectarian strife and a separatist insurgency which also targets government officials and security agencies.
Successive governments have neglected Balochistan – the largest but the poorest province – where Baloch insurgents rose up in 2004, demanding political autonomy and a greater share of profits from the oil, gas and mineral resources in the region.
Last week, the chief justice of the apex court accused FC troops of involvement in a third of all disappearances in the province, where the military has been accused of rights abuses in its effort to put down the insurgency. (With additional input from Agencies)
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2012.
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