FAISALABAD: People attend the funeral of a soldier who was martyred during a gun battle with terrorists in Balochistan.—AP
FAISALABAD: People attend the funeral of a soldier who was martyred during a gun battle with terrorists in Balochistan.—AP

• 13 terrorists killed, seven security personnel martyred in fighting
• Operation still underway in Panjgur

QUETTA: Pakistan on Thursday blamed elements based in Afghanistan and India for attacks on two security forces’ installations in Balochistan even as troops continued an operation against terrorists holding out in the Panjgur district.

At least 13 terrorists were killed and seven security personnel, including an officer, martyred during armed attacks on two security forces’ camps in the Nushki and Panjgur districts, and subsequent security operations against the attackers, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said on Thursday.

In a statement regarding the attack, which was partly reported in Thursday’s paper, ISPR said that after successfully repulsing attacks on Wednesday night, security forces carried out clearance operations to hunt down the attackers hiding in the area, killing at least five terrorists.

Security forces claimed to have killed five attackers in Nush­ki, while four terrorists who were trying to flee the area were engaged and killed in Panjgur. Four terrorists were killed on Wednesday night.

The ISPR statement mentioned that according to their initial findings, intelligence agencies had intercepted communications between terrorists and their handlers in Afghanistan and India.

According to the military, action is still ongoing in Panjgur where four to five terrorists have been surrounded by security forces. The statement said that three soldiers and an officer were martyred in the line of duty at Nushki, while four soldiers were injured and three others laid down their lives in the fighting in Panjgur.

In a tweet on Thursday, Prime Minister Imran Khan paid tribute to the “brave security forces who repulsed terrorist attacks against security forces’ camps”, adding that: “The nation stands united behind our security forces who continue to give great sacrifices to protect us”.

Condemning the attacks, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed also lauded the gallantry of the brave men who had laid down their lives in the defence of their country, adding that Pakistan’s security forces would never allow terrorists to succeed in their nefarious designs.

Addressing a press conference on Thursday, Adviser to the Balochistan Chief Minister on Home and Tribal Affairs Ziaullah Langove said that security forces had completed their operation in Nushki, but action was still underway in the Panjgur bazaar area.

Due to ongoing action, he said that markets remained closed while the Panjgur local administration had asked residents of the area not to leave their homes until further orders.

He said that 15 terrorists were killed and at least 12 security personnel martyred in the battle between security forces and terrorists in Nushki and Panjgur, while 23 soldiers had been injured.

According to Mr Langove, heavy fighting raged on between armed insurgents and security forces for nearly 20 hours, starting late on Wednesday when terrorists launched attacks on FC installations in Nushki and Panjgur.

Condemning the attacks on both FC camps, he said the security forces had saved both towns from a major disaster. He claimed that foreign involvement could not be ruled out in these attacks, adding that the terrorists had been in contact with facilitators abroad.

Sources told Dawn that the insurgents had used explosive-laden vehicles to attack the gates of FC camps in both towns in order to infiltrate the installations. The resulting explosion badly damaged government and private buildings and offices.

“In Nushki, the civil hospital was badly damaged in the explosion as it is located close to the camp,” Assistant Commissioner Jahanzeb Sheikh told Dawn, adding that the DC house, education department office and several other buildings were also badly affected, while homes located nearby were also damaged.

Reports also suggest that one person was killed after being hit by a stray bullet in his home. The victim’s family informed the administration of the fatality as they were not able to take him to hospital due to heavy firing in their area.

In Panjgur, heavy explosions and firing continued overnight and into Thursday afternoon. Residents of Panjgur town said that helicopters were seen hovering over the camp. Sources claimed that armed insurgents had taken women and children hostage after entering the camp and used them as human shields. However, security forces were able to free the hostages, sources said.

Behram Baloch in Gwadar also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, February 4th, 2022

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