QUETTA: Nine terrorists were killed and a havildar was martyred during an operation against the killers of Lt Col Laiq Baig Mirza, an army officer who was kidnapped earlier this week while travelling to Quetta from Ziarat, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement on Friday.

However, Lt Col Mirza’s cousin, Umer Javed, who was kidnapped alongside him en route to Quetta, has yet to be recovered.

Security forces swooped down on a “hideout of terrorists” in the mountains near Ziarat after Thursday midnight, ISPR said.

Once the terrorists realised they had been encircled, according to the statement, they opened fire at the advancing contingent, resulting in the martyrdom of Havildar Khan Muhammad.

The security forces later undertook a “clearance operation” and managed to eliminate five fighters belonging to the proscribed Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) after a heavy exchange of fire.

The security forces then spotted another group of terrorists near Ziarat Nullah and killed four of them, the statement added. The rest escaped under cover of heavy rain and darkness.

“The nine bodies of terrorists are being handed over to the civil administration for completion of legal formalities,” officials said.

In a statement on Thursday, ISPR had said that SSG commandos had launched a search operation to recover the men and that on the night between July 13 and 14, a group of six to eight terrorists was spotted moving in a nullah in nearby mountains. Seeing the forces closing-in, the militants shot Lt Col Mirza in the head and attempted to flee, the statement added.

In the ensuing exchange of fire, two terrorists were killed while the remaining managed to flee, along with their other captive, Mr Umer.

According to APP, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif paid tribute to the martyred Lt Col Laiq Baig, saying his sacrifice would not go in vain and that the killers would be taken to task.

Mr Shehbaz offered condolences to the family of Lt Col Laiq Baig and prayed that his soul rest in peace.

The prime minister said the officers and jawans of the Pakistan Army were rendering great sacrifices for the motherland in the fight against terrorists. “The nation is determined to eliminate terrorism once and for all.”

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2022

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