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QUETTA: Dr Manan Baloch, a senior leader of the banned Baloch Liberation Front (BLF), and four other suspected militants were killed in a gunbattle with security forces in Mastung on Saturday, according to Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti.

Addressing a press conference at the Chief Minister Secretariat here, he said Manan headed the Baloch National Movement (BNM), an organisation supporting militants.

The minister was accompanied by the Inspector General of Balochistan Police, Ahsan Mehboob, DIG Frontier Corps Briga­dier Tahir and a spokesman for the Balochistan government, Anwarul Haq Kakar.

He said security forces conducted a search operation in Killi Datu area of Mastung during which an exchange of fire took place between the security personnel and militants hiding in a house.

He said Manan and four other men were allegedly involved in subversive activities, including attacks on law enforcement agencies.

After the clash security forces seized arms and ammunition from the house where the five men were hiding.

The minister said all law enforcement and intelligence agencies were fighting against terrorists in a methodical manner, adding that despite persistent attacks on security personnel their morale was high.

Mr Bugti alleged that some foreign agencies, including Indian secret agency RAW and Afghans, were stoking the unrest in Balochistan. However, the country’s security forces were determined to confront foreign agents and their supporters in Balochistan, he added.

The minister said security forces had conducted 239 intelligence-based operations in Balochistan over the past two months in which 22 militants were killed and 14 others injured.

In reply to a question, he said subversive activities in the province were parts of attempts to sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. However, he added, security forces of the country would foil all such moves.

He said in recent operations conducted in the port city of Gwadar a large number of people who were allegedly involved in subversive activities had been taken into custody.

Meanwhile, two suspected militants were killed in an exchange of fire with security forces in Mastung district late on Friday night.

Official sources said that unidentified people attacked a convoy of security forces in the Kanak area of the district. They fired rockets and shots.

Security personnel in the convoy retaliated and the exchange of fire continued for about three hours.

Published in Dawn, January 31st, 2016