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Over 300 suspected militants lay down arms in Balochistan

QUETTA: As many as 313 suspected militants, 17 commanders among them, surrendered to the government and security forces in Balochistan on Saturday.

The militants said to be associated with different banned outfits laid down arms before Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri and Commander Southern Command Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa during a ceremony held in the premises of the Balochistan Assembly.

The suspected militants were called to the stage where they laid down arms and were handed over Pakistan’s flag and a flower. They pledged their allegiance to the government of Pakistan and resolved to work for peace and development of the country.

Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister appreciated the surrender, saying the country has a big heart to accept those who played with the lives of innocent people.

The authorities have long been negotiating with militants to lay down their arms.

In October 2015, the 32 militants from two separatist groups, the Baloch Liberation Army and the United Baloch Army, which have long been fighting government forces in gas rich Balochistan which borders Iran and Afghanistan, had pledged their allegiance to the state.

Earlier in the same year, more than 100 militants surrendered and pledged their allegiance to the country.

Resource-rich Balochistan is the largest of Pakistan’s four provinces, but its roughly seven million inhabitants have long complained they do not receive a fair share of its gas and mineral wealth.

Rebels began their fifth insurgency against the state in 2004, with hundreds of soldiers and militants killed in the fighting.

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