Balochistan

Forces kill 13 rebels in Quetta: officials

QUETTA: Around 1,000 Pakistani paramilitary troops backed by helicopters are battling separatists in the country’s restive southwest, with the rebel death toll rising to 13 Thursday on the second day of fighting.

The clash with separatists began on Wednesday in the area of a gasfield in Pirkoh, some 245 kilometres (152 miles) southeast of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province which is wracked by a tribal insurgency, Taliban attacks and sectarian violence.

“Security forces have killed at least 13 miscreants who were hiding in the gasfield when they refused to surrender,” Manzoor Ahmed, a spokesman for Frontier Corps told AFP.

There was no loss on the security forces’ side, he added.

Provincial Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti said the militants were members of the Baloch Republican Army (BRA).

“We have evidence that they were members of the BRA and were miscreants,” he told AFP.

“We took this action to set up peace in the region and we will act against the miscreants wherever we get an information about them,” he added.

Baluchistan, Pakistan’s largest but least developed and most sparsely populated province, has been afflicted for decades by a separatist insurgency that was revived in 2004.

One militant and a civilian were also killed during an attack on a checkpoint in the northwestern city of Peshawar Thursday, which has borne the brunt of a more than decade-long homegrown Islamist insurgency.

Thursday’s incident in Peshawar erupted after military personnel at a checkpoint intercepted a suspicious man and he took out his gun and started shooting, senior police official Omar Rana told AFP.

“The attacker and a passenger in a van were killed and six others were wounded in the exchange of fire,” Rana said.

The incident took place close to US consulate at the entrance of Peshawar garrison and just a mile away from the Army Public School where Taliban gunmen killed 154 people, most of them students, in December.

Pakistani troops have been engaged in a full-scale offensive against Taliban and other militants in North Waziristan and Khyber tribal districts since last year.

Attacks in general have decreased since the offensive but security forces still face frequent assaults. – AFP

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