Five police personnel, including an SHO, were shot dead by gunmen in Mach town of Bolan district, some 90-kilometres from Quetta, on Wednesday.
The incident occurred when more than 24 armed men intercepted a police van, a passenger van and other vehicles on the National Highway in the Ab-e-Gum area of Mach town.
Upon resistance, the assailants opened fire on the police van that was heading towards Quetta from Naseerabad. SHO Dera Allahyar Ali Nawaz Khosa and four other officers died on the spot. “We reached the area to find bodies in the vehicle. The police officers were going to Quetta to appear before the Balochistan High Court,” Tehsildar Zareef Kurd told The Express Tribune.
Besides killing the policemen, the group also kidnapped nine people – all within an hour. They intercepted a passenger van and kidnapped two people after checking their identity papers. “The armed men pretending to be security personnel, asked the passengers to show their ID cards,” the tehsildar said quoting a witness. They also whisked away two Levies personnel deputed near the gas well in the same area.
During the operation, three other police officers of Mach police station were abducted, while returning from Dhaddar in an official vehicle carrying the salaries of police officials. “The armed men kidnapped three policemen and a child and surprisingly left the salary of Rs800,000,” a senior official said. Sub-engineer Nawaz, who was travelling to Quetta with his family, was also kidnapped.
“Armed men kidnapped nine people. Deputy Commissioner Jhal Magsi Shaukat Margzani and BDA sub-engineer Mohammad Nawaz are still in the captivity of kidnappers, while the others were released,” Home Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani said.
Banned outfit Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) claimed responsibility for the killings and kidnappings. Calling from an undisclosed location, BLA spokesperson said that the kidnapped people are being questioned for involvement in activities against Baloch people. “If they were involved in any such activities they will be killed,” the spokesperson said.
Later in the day, assailants also opened fire on a Frontier Corps vehicle and Assistant Commissioner Mach in Ab-e-Gum area, an official said. Police, Levies, Balochistan Constabulary and personnel of other law enforcement agencies threw a cordon in the area of Mach for a manhunt. “Efforts are underway to trace the armed men and snap checking is being carried out in the area,” a levy official said, adding that “the armed men fled towards the mountains.”
Meanwhile, Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani took note of the incident.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 3rd, 2011.