QUETTA: Suspected militants stormed a check post of the Frontier Corps in the troubled Loralai district Monday morning, killing seven paramilitary soldiers.
Over 40 militants armed with sophisticated weapons carried out the deadly attack on the Chechalo check post near the Mekhtar area of Loralai, according to a spokesperson for the FC. “Seven soldiers were martyred in the exchange of fire,” he said, adding the one soldier was also wounded but remained stable.
The dead soldiers included two petty officers – one Subedar and one Hawaldar – and five sepoys. The casualties were shifted to the FC headquarters hospital.
Another official said the attackers laid siege to the check post before storming it. The FC spokesperson said that reinforcements were rushed to the check post which engaged the attackers in a gunfight. Several attackers were wounded in the gunfight before they fled.
Deputy Commissioner of Loralai Shahzeb Kakar told The Express Tribune that the attackers also fired rocket-propelled grenades at the FC troops who came to reinforce their colleagues under siege.
The check post is located in a remote area of the Loralai, about 265 kilometres northeast of Quetta. Though Pashtuns are the dominant ethnic group in Loralai district, the Mekthar area where the attack took place is located on the confluence of borders between three districts Barkhan, Zhob and Musakhail. Of them, Barkhan is Baloch populated district.
Soon after the deadly attack, paramilitary troops launched a search operation in the area. “The FC is using helicopters and sniffer dogs in the hunt for the attackers,” the spokesperson said. IGFC Maj-Gen Ejaz Shahid was personally overseeing the search operation in a helicopter.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has strongly condemned for which the banned Baloch separatist group, Balochistan Liberation Army, claimed responsibility. The premier offered condolences to the families of the martyred paramilitary troops and reiterated his government’s resolve to eradicate terrorism and militancy from the country. Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch also denounced the attack.
Balochistan has been wracked by a separatist insurgency since 2004 which became deadlier after the killing of Jamhoori Watan Party leader Nawab Akbar Bugti in a military operation in Kohlu district in 2006.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2015.