QUETTA: Thirty-four suspected militants, among them a leader of a banned organisation, have been eliminated during an operation being carried out by security forces in the Johan area of Kalat district, Balochistan Home Minister Mir Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti said at a press conference on Saturday.

A soldier of the Frontier Corps lost his life and two others suffered injuries in the operation which continued for three days.

The minister said the operation was being carried out in a mountainous terrain near Johan.

According to Mr Bugti, the militants killed during the operation were involved in last year’s massacre of 22 passengers near Mastung.

The banned militant group United Baloch Army (UBA) had claimed responsibility for the attack on the passengers.

The minister said the militant leader killed in the operation was identified as Abdul Nabi Bangulzai of the UBA.

There were reports of the killing of some other militant leaders during the operation, but security forces had yet to confirm these reports.

Mr Bugti said Abdul Nabi Bangulzai was also involved in the murder of Justice Nawaz Marri, a judge of the Balochistan High Court. Justice Marri was gunned down in the Zarghoon Road area of Quetta in 2001.

Mr Bugti said security forces had destroyed several camps of militants in the mountainous area and seized a large quantity of gold, cash and weapons.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2016