Fierce clashes are reported to have erupted in Bolan district of Balochistan after the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) killed scores of Pakistani soldiers in different attacks over the weekend. The Pakistani army is reported to have launched a retaliatory operation with ground forces, helicopter gunships, surveillance drones and unmanned aerial vehicles in different areas of Bolan, close to Quetta – the Balochistan capital.
Pakistan launched the offensive against the BLA after the Baloch rebel group killed nine Pakistani military personnel on Friday. The BLA targeted an outpost of the Pakistani military in Zarghoon near Quetta, which was allegedly providing security to coal miners in the region.
In a separate attack on Saturday, the BLA killed three commandos from the Pakistani army’s Special Services Group (SSG). Acknowledging the attack, the military’s public relations agency said that terrorists attacked a post that had been set-up to check extortion targeting coal mines in the area.
The BLA said in a press release that its fighters also ambushed the Pakistani military near Margat inflicting heavy casualties. The BLA has earlier also inflicted heavy damage on the army.
In a press statement, BLA spokesperson Jeeyand Baloch said: “In Zarghoon, Bolan and adjoining areas, few coal contractors and miners are working directly as collaborators of Pakistani forces. The military is building outposts in the area for the security of these collaborators, the outpost targeted yesterday was built for the same reasons”.
It was only last week, May 16, that the Pakistani government headed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif officially announced the deployment of the army in Balochistan, indicating that the situation is out of control in the province. This was the first time that the government publicly acknowledged the existence of the army in Balochistan – a vast mineral-rich region out of bounds for the international and local media.
Pakistani security forces in the sensitive province, which shares a volatile border with Iran and Afghanistan, have been losing huge numbers of personnel in regular but intense fighting with Baloch separatists.
The Baloch fighters have even blasted their way into Pakistani paramilitary camps and held reinforcements at bay for days, causing heavy casualties among the Pakistani forces. Poverty-ridden Baloch seek independence from Pakistan and have been waging a war for over seven decades after the Pakistani security forces forcibly seized their independent country on 27 March 1948.
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