QUETTA, Aug 26: Veteran Baloch nationalist leader and former Chief Minister of Balochistan, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was killed, along with 37 armed tribals, in a military operation in Chalgri area of Bhamboor hills of Dera Bugti district on Saturday.
Nawab Bugti, who was born in 1927, was a former chief minister of Balochistan. The chief of the Bugti tribe went underground last year, joining militants who have been waging an armed insurgency for a long time.
According to reports received here, around 21 security personnel, including some officers, were also killed in fierce clashes. Over two dozen tribesmen were injured in the area and taken into custody.
“Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was killed in the operation along with some family members,” federal minister for information Mohammad
Ali Durrani confirmed to the media.
“Yes, I confirm the death of Nawab sahib in the operation,” Senator Agha Shahid Bugti, son-in-law of Nawab Bugti, confirmed to Dawn late Saturday night, adding that he had no information about other causalities.
However, sources said that Nawabzada Baramdagh Bugti, grandson of Nawab Bugti, was among the dead but Agha Shahid Bugti said he couldn’t confirm the report. A private TV channel said that Mir Balaach Khan Marri was also killed in the operation. However, the report could not be confirmed. Mr Durrani also said that Nawab Akbar Bugti had been killed along with two of his grandsons, adds Online.
According to the sources, security forces started the operation in Bhambhoor area three days ago using heavy weapons and helicopter gunships. On Saturday, the sources said, more troops were inducted into the operation and helicopter gunships shelled the area throughout the day.
The sources said that helicopter gunships targeted the Chalgri area of Bhambhoor mountains and dropped troops who took action in the area. Armed militants of Marri and Bugti tribes resisted the troops and heavy fighting was reported for several hours.
“Nawab Bugti and many others were killed when helicopter gunships dropped bombs at their hideout,” the sources said, adding that troops had arrested over two dozen injured militants.
Reports reaching here, said that the operation was continuing in the area till around 01.30am.
Security forces confirmed the killing of around 21 of their personnel and said that six officers — a colonel, two majors and three captains were among the dead.
After hearing about the death of Nawab Bugti, hundreds of students of the Balochistan University came out on the main Sariab Road here and started protesting against the killing of Nawab Bugti and other people.
They broke doors and windows of the university hostel and attacked passing vehicles. Police rushed to the area and fired in the air to disperse the protesting students.
According to security sources the government traced the whereabouts of the Bugti through a satellite tracking system, and launched the operation.
Leaders of major opposition parties, including Makhdoom Amin Faheem of the PPP and Hafiz Hussain Ahmed of the MMA, expressed shock and grief over the death of Nawab Bugti and reiterated their rejection of the use of force in Balochistan.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader Altaf Hussain condemned the killing of Nawab Bugti and expressed condolences with the Bugti family. He said that his party had always opposed the military operation in Balochistan and called for talks to resolve the issue.
Reports of protest demonstrations were received from the dominantly Baloch are of Lyari in Karachi late last night.
A report received from Sukkur received late last night said that areas bordering the province of Balochistan in Sindh and Punjab had been placed on high alert with large deployments of security forces.
Our Correspondent adds from Multan: A spokesman of the Marri tribe, Najeed Marri, told Dawn on phone from Kohlu that 140 people from the Bugti and Marri tribes had been killed in the air and ground operations launched.
He identified the area of the operation as Karmowadh, 45km from Kahan, the headquarters of Khair Bux Marri tribe.
He said it was a major operation in which both sides suffered losses. He said that despite the death of Akbar Bugti, their struggle would continue.
It is learnt that some of the injured security personnel had been airlifted to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Multan.