QUETTA: Security for­ces thwarted three coordinated attacks launched by terrorists using rockets and sophisticated weapons in Mach town on Monday night, some 70km from the provincial capital, officials said.

At least one policeman was reportedly martyred while a truck driver injured in the horrific assault.

While Balochistan’s caretaker Minister for Informa­tion Jan Achakzai attributed the attack to terrorists affiliated with the Aslam Acho group, responsibility was later claimed by the Majeed Brigade of the proscribed Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA).

Security forces immediately responded to the attack and took up positions. The gun battle between terrorists and security forces continued for several hours.

Mr Achakzai said no damage was reported to any installations, nor were there any casualties among the security forces.

Railway station, central jail, police station targeted; minister says assault thwarted

“The terrorists have now retreated, and our security forces are currently in pursuit. We remain hopeful that all threats will be eliminated before dawn, by the grace of God,” he said, adding that security forces had successfully thwarted the attacks.

According to the police, at least 15 rockets were fired from nearby mountains, which landed and exploded in different areas of Mach town.

After firing rockets, terrorists attacked a camp of the security forces near the central jail and also entered the Mach railway station.

There were reports that a railway policeman was martyred in the attack, while a truck driver injured.

However, no casualty was officially confirmed.

Soon after the attack, Mach town was plunged into darkness and traffic on the Quetta-Sibi Highway was suspended.

The minister’s remarks came after, according to sources, rockets landed and exploded near a camp of the security forces close to the Central Jail Mach, the prison’s residential area and other places in town.

People were asked to stay indoors while emergency was declared in the district hospital and doctors and other staff called on duty.

The Inspector General Prisons, Balochistan, Shuja Kasi confirmed that rockets hit the walls of the residential colony of the Mach jail.

“Mortar shells and rockets exploded close to the walls of the colony,” he said, adding that no report of any casualty was received so far.

The jail superintendent refuted social media reports that the gate and walls of the prison had been damaged. “Mach Jail and prisoners are completely safe and no rocket hit jail walls or premises,” he said.

The officer said that at present 800 prisoners were kept in Mach Jail which includes some death-row prisoners.

Sources said that armed men also attacked a police station in the Gokrt area. However, Levies and security forces immediately responded and thwarted it.

However, a truck driver, Abdul Malik Shahwani was brought to the district hospital Dhadar with bullet injuries.

Published in Dawn, January 30th, 2024

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