QUETTA: Violence continues unabated in the restive province of Balochistan, where three people were killed in separate incidents during the last 24 hours, officials and sources said on Tuesday.
A paramilitary soldier and a suspected kidnapper were killed in a pre-dawn raid conducted by the Frontier Corps (FC) in the Kabu area of Kalat district. Paramilitary troops also rescued a kidnapped person from the clutches of his captors and arrested eight suspects.
A source told The Express Tribune that the operation has been extended to purge the area of criminals.
A party of paramilitary personnel raided Kabu, a mountainous area in Kalat district. They were tipped off about the presence of suspected criminals involved in cases of kidnapping for ransom. The suspected kidnappers opened fire on FC soldiers with automatic weapons. Paramilitary troops returned the fire and in the ensuing firefight one of the alleged kidnappers and a FC soldier in their custody were killed.
“One FC soldier was killed and another rescued during the operation,” an unnamed official told The Express Tribune. “Eight suspected kidnappers were also arrested.” The suspects have been shifted to an unknown location for questioning.
A cache of weapons, including two Kalashnikov assault rifles, one rocket launcher, eight hand grenades, six detonators and gunpowder, were also recovered during the raid.
“The two FC soldiers – Tahir and Mohammad Asif – were posted at Ghaza Bund Scouts on the outskirts of Quetta. They were travelling to the city when armed men abducted them on Sunday. The pair belongs to Punjab,” the official said.
Residents say that FC troops launched a search operation in Kabu village on Monday evening and “opened fire on several houses of local tribesmen.” Residents claimed that troops also arrested two innocent persons during the operation.
However, the FC rejected allegations that the search operation was conducted in a populated area.
In another incident, the driver of a Nato oil tanker was killed when gunmen opened fire on his vehicle in Mastung Town, some 50 kilometres from Quetta, on Tuesday, officials said. “Two other persons riding in the tanker was also wounded in the attack.” The oil tanker was returning to Karachi after delivering fuel for NATO forces, stationed in Afghanistan. And it came under attack in the Ghanja Dori area of Mastung.
Law enforcers shifted the dead and the injured to Quetta’s Sandeman Hospital. They also registered a case and mounted a manhunt for the attackers.
In other violence, two police officials, among them a station house officer (SHO), were injured in a grenade attack on the Mastung city police station on Tuesday.
Official sources said that two persons riding on a motorcycle hurled a hand grenade at the police station which exploded on its premises with a big bang. As a result, SHO Ghulam Sarwar and Additional SHO Abdul Salam Bangulzai were wounded. The attackers fled the scene firing gunshots into the air.
The injured were taken to the District Headquarters Hospital Mastung for treatment where SHO Sarwar is stated to be in a critical condition.
Meanwhile, a complete shutter-down strike was observed in Turbat, Mastung, Dalbandin, Gwadar and other areas of Balochistan on Tuesday to protest the killing of National Party (NP) leader Maula Baksh Dashti.
Dashti was gunned down in Turbat on Sunday.
All business centres and shops remained shuttered, while there was thin traffic on roads.
A spokesperson for the NP said that the government has failed to maintain law and order in the province where “targeted killings have become a routine matter.” The Baloch Defence Organisation has claimed responsibility for Dashti’s killing. The organisation recently emerged in Khuzdar and it has been targeting anti-government Baloch political figures.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2010.
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