QUETTA: Security forces killed eight armed militants during a search operation on Friday night in Balochistan's troubled Bolan district in the aftermath of the attack on Rawalpindi-bound Jaffar Express train, a senior administration official said.
Deputy Commissioner Bolan Abdul Waheed Shah told reporters that security forces launched a search operation in mountains of Machh and Kolpur, killing eight militants.
Shah said the militants resisted the operation and both sides exchanged heavy firing during the action that continued for more than five hours. “Tension prevails in the area after the killings,” he said.
More troops were called in the area to control the situation developed after the armed clash. However, a local levies official, who requested not to be named since he was not authorised to speak to media, told Dawn.com that helicopters were also being used in the search operation.
“Two helicopters are hovering over mountains of Machh and other areas of Bolan,” he said.
Armed militants killed four passengers and injured another 27 in a rocket attack at Jaffar Express earlier in the day. The attack was followed by fierce clashes between security forces and armed militants.
“As the train reached Dozan area of Machh, there was a huge blast,” an injured of the attack Mohibullah told Dawn.com. He said the blast was followed by intense firing by frontier corps personnel guarding the Jaffar Express.
The injured were rushed to Civil Hospital Quetta for medical treatment. Women and children were also among the injured. Emergency was imposed in the hospital and senior doctors were called in to treat the injured.
Train service between Balochistan and other parts of the country was temporarily suspended. However Jaffar express was allowed to proceed towards Rawalpindi after alteration of engine.
Meanwhile, Bolan Mail from Karachi to Quetta was stopped at Notal area of Naseerabad for security reasons. “We have been waiting for last five hours for departure,” Allauddin, an awaiting passenger told Dawn.com on telephone. He said that Notal was also sensitive area and all the passengers were concerned about their security.
Allauddin claimed that all passengers have been asked to spend night at Notal and the train would depart tomorrow in the morning after security clearance.
Friday’s attack comes just over a week after gunmen disguised as security personnel killed 11 civilians and two security men after kidnapping them from Punjab-bound passenger coaches also near Machh Town.
The coaches were coming from Quetta and the banned Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) had claimed responsibility for the killings.
Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province by area, is plagued by extremist militancy and sectarian violence, as well as a regional insurgency waged by separatist militants.