Inspector General of Frontier Corps (FC) Maj-Gen Obaidullah Khan Khattak expressed grief on Thursday over the deaths of 14 paramilitary troops in Turbat District, adding that the FC was determined to retain peace in Balochistan.
In a statement issues here, Khattak said the sacrifices rendered by FC personnel would not go in vain and FC would not abandon its duties of retaining durable peace in this region.
“The elements involved in this deadly attack will be chased till they are brought to justice,” he said.
According to the statement, militants placed landmines near the Kalag area of Buleida, sub-division in Kech District. FC personnel were engaged in a de-mining operation to protect the lives and property of residents when militants ambushed the FC personnel.
Fourteen FC personnel, including two Junior Commissioned Officers, were killed and two FC vehicles were also destroyed in the attack. Law enforcement agencies and police have sealed off the area and launched a manhunt for the arrest of assailants involved in the atrocity, the statement added.
Another official said the attack was so sudden that the soldiers did not have time to defend themselves. He said the attackers were believed to be at least two dozen in number. The attack was claimed by a spokesman for the Balochistan Liberation Front in calls to television stations and newspapers.
Baloch insurgents have been fighting a protracted insurgency in the province to demand more autonomy and control over the natural resources of their impoverished region.
The insurgency became more deadly following the killing of Baloch chieftain Nawab Akbar Bugti, who was also the chief of Jamhoori Watan Party, in a military operation in the Taratani caves of Kohlu district in 2006.
The Pakistan Peoples Party-led coalition government has announced a package, Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan, to address the sense of deprivation among the people in the largest province of the country.
However, this delayed move has done little to pacify the Baloch insurgent groups who, it appears, do not want a political solution to the problem.
They blame the military for continuing detentions and subsequent killing of political activists.
In a similar ambush on November 21, militants killed 14 soldiers in the Musakhel District of Balochistan. In December a car bomb blast in Quetta killed 15. (Additional input from wires)
Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2012.