Paramilitary troops and government officials claim to have killed 30 militants belonging to banned Baloch groups during a crackdown in Juhan, a mountainous area in Kalat division, about 145 kilometres off Quetta. At least 10 security personnel were also wounded in the operation.
“The security forces targeted hideouts [of militants] in Kalat division,” Balochistan Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti told a news conference in Quetta. “Action is being taken against those who are challenging the writ of the state.”
Frontier Corps (FC) spokesperson Khan Wasay said the hideouts belonged to the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) and Baloch Republican Army (BRA). “Security forces are using helicopters in the operation. One of the choppers made an emergency landing on the Kalat RCD highway after it developed a technical fault,” he added.
The special wing of Balochistan and Kalat Scouts is also taking part in the operation. “The militants were involved in carrying out attacks on passenger trains,” the FC spokesperson said, adding that a huge cache of arms and ammunition was seized during the operation.
Inspector General Frontier Corps (FC) Balochistan Ijaz Shahid is personally monitoring the crackdown. “More than 30 Baloch militants belonging to BRA and BLA have been killed while 10 FC personnel sustained injuries during the operation,” the spokesperson said. “The militants fired with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades.”
He added that it was difficult to reach the militants’ hideouts but security forces were trying to reach and dismantle the network despite all difficulties. No arrest has been made so far.
The RCD highway near the Surab area of Kalat district was sealed after a helicopter made an emergency landing. “It was partially damaged. However, the security personnel on board remained unhurt,” the home minister said.
The Express Tribune contacted the local administration – the Kalat police and Balochistan levies – for comment but the officials denied knowledge of any crackdown. “We are contacting the security forces to inquire what actually happened,” a senior official said on condition of anonymity.
He said that operation was still under way in the area. “Bodies will be handed over to the local administration once the operation concludes,” he added. The dead could not be immediately identified as the bodies had not been transferred to hospital.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 8th, 2014.
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