Over 200 Baloch separatist laid down their weapons in the presence of Chief Minister Balochistan Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, Commander Southern Command Asim Saleem Bajwa and other top civil and military officials in a ceremony held in Turbat on Thursday.

The militants — a majority of whom were linked to the banned Baloch Liberation Front — also included 15 key commanders, sources within the Balochistan government told DawnNews.

They were allegedly involved in a series of subversive activities, including the targeting of security forces and bomb explosions.

CM Bizenjo distributed cheques worth Rs0.1 million each to the surrendering militants during the ceremony and urged disgruntled Baloch leaders to shun violence and come back into the national fold.

"The state is like a mother, and a mother forgives her children," he claimed, adding: "When children do not understand then the state plays the role of a father."

The militants surrendered before the officials as part of a reconciliation process initiated by the former chief minister, Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch. As many as 1,800 militants have so far laid down their weapons in Quetta, Khuzdar, Kohlu and other areas of the province.

For years, Balochistan has been riven by militancy and sectarian strife. Its roughly seven million inhabitants have also long complained they do not receive a fair share of its gas and mineral wealth.

Baloch separatists demanding more autonomy and control over gas and mineral resources have frequently targeted security forces and police.

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