In Pakistan, attack on store selling national flags kills 1

QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — Suspected separatists hurled a hand grenade at a store selling Pakistani national flags in restive southwestern Baluchistan province, killing one man and wounding four people, officials said Tuesday.

No one has claimed responsibility for the late Monday night attack in Quetta, the provincial capital, according to Wasim Baig, a spokesman for the provincial health department.

The separatist Baluch Liberation Army has claimed such attacks in the past. This year, it warned people not to celebrate Pakistan’s Independence Day on Aug. 14, marking the date in 1947 when Pakistan got independence from British colonial rule when India was divided.

Earlier this week, the same separatist group claimed responsibility for the killing of two policemen in a roadside bombing in Quetta, indicating an uptick in violence ahead of the holiday.

On Tuesday in Quetta, security forces shot and killed five suspected separatists in an operation on the city’s outskirts, the provincial counter-terrorism department said. It provided no further details.

Small separatist groups have been carrying out a long-running insurgency in the province, demanding independence from the central government in Islamabad. Although Pakistan says it has quelled the insurgency in Baluchistan, violence has increased in recent months.

The province also shares a long border with Iran and Afghanistan, and the Pakistani Taliban and the Islamic State group have also maintained a presence in Baluchistan.

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