Security troops kill 6 separatists in raid in SW Pakistan

QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani security forces overnight killed six militants of a separatist group in a raid at their hideout in the mountains of southwestern Baluchistan province, the military said Saturday.

Counterterrorism police arrested three others from the same group, the Baluchistan Liberation Army, in a separate operation, the military said in a statement.

The statement said the Saturday raid was conducted in the district of Kharan based on credible intelligence that terrorists were hiding out in the area. It said a shootout erupted after the militants opened fire on Frontier Corps troops. Six militants, including two commanders, were killed and a large cache of arms and ammunition was recovered, the statement said.

The Baluchistan Liberation Army, one of the main separatist groups in the province, has waged an insurgency in the mineral and gas rich province for nearly two decades. It confirmed in a statement that the group’s six men were killed in the ongoing security forces operation in a mountainous area of Kharan district. The BLA and other groups want to separate from Islamabad.

Counterterrorism police in Baluchistan’s Turbat area Friday night arrested three members of the BLA who they said were involved in facilitating attacks on security forces and civilians.

The police statement said the three men were also involved in last month’s suicide attack in the port city of Gwadar that killed four children playing alongside the road. The attack targeted a security forces convoy escorting Chinese nationals and one Chinese was wounded in the attack. Counterterrorism police said the arrested men were also involved in an attack on a luxury hotel in Gwadar in 2019.

Counterterrorism police in eastern Punjab province said that during operations across the province they arrested eight members of banned militant and sectarian groups involved in spreading hate and jihadist literature. They were also in possession of arms and ammunition and were collecting funds for banned groups, police said.

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