QUETTA: Two soldiers were killed Wednesday in a roadside bombing in Balochistan’s Awaran district near the epicentre of a devastating earthquake earlier last week.
The Pakistani military said the soldiers were distributing humanitarian aid when their vehicle hit the roadside bomb in Mashkay area of the quake-hit district.
“We are there to provide relief for the local people. We will continue the relief work for our Baloch brethren even if attacks continue,” said Major General Samrez Salik, who oversees the relief operations.
The blast also left four others injured.
According to a foreign news agency, separatist militant group Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) claimed responsibility for the attack.
“We claim responsibility for Wednesday morning attack on troops near Mashkay. We will step up such attacks in coming days,” Allah Nazar Baloch, head of the BLF, told Reuters.
Awaran is considered one of the most sensitive and troubled districts of Balochistan and is also the hometown of the Baloch rebel commander.
The district’s Mashkay area was badly affected by the 7.7-magnitude earthquake which jolted the southwestern province last week, claiming over hundreds of lives and leaving thousands homeless.
Separately, army units came under fire in five other incidents throughout the day.
The army has been facing difficulties in providing relief to the quake victims due to the security situation in Awaran. Last week, two rockets narrowly missed a military helicopter and there have been several attacks on convoys carrying aid.
On Sept 30, a convoy of the chief minister of Balochistan Dr Abdul Malik Baloch escaped a rocket attack in Awaran as he was on his way to a camp office set up to carry out relief efforts.
In a statement on Wednesday, the chief minister strongly condemned the bombing in Mashkay.
According to the chief minister, Awaran has had no government for the past decade, which has led to miscreants trying their best to compromise relief efforts in the area.
In a media briefing on Tuesday, CM Baloch admitted that there were difficulties in carrying out relief activities in the quake-hit areas of the province.
Chief Minister Dr Malik Baloch has already made an appeal to Allah Nazar to cooperate with aid agencies in order to provide support to earthquake survivors.