ISLAMABAD: A prominent separatist commander in Pakistan’s mineral-rich Balochistan threatened yesterday to step up attacks on security forces after at least two soldiers were killed in a roadside bomb in the vast lawless region.
“They (army) are directly involved in the large-scale killings of Baloch men,” Allah Nazar, head of the Baloch Liberation Front, said from a secret location in Balochistan. “They want to crush us and make money from the disaster relief.”
More than 500 people died in the September 24 earthquake in a remote part of Balochistan serving as a stronghold for insurgents and where security forces have almost no presence.
The army denied involvement in any killings.
“We are there to provide relief for the local people. We will continue the relief work for our Baloch brethren even if attacks continue,” said Major General Samrez Salik, who oversees the relief operations.
Two soldiers were killed in a roadside bomb near Awaran, a town near the quake epicentre. The military said they were there to distribute humanitarian aid.
Army units came under fire in five incidents throughout the day.
“We claim responsibility for yesterday morning attack on troops near Mashkay. We will step up such attacks in coming days,” said Nazar. “We cannot expect relief from the helicopters which routinely fire rockets at our villages”
Meanwhile, Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch pleaded that in the days ahead, the most difficult period would be the rehabilitation process of earthquake victims for which international assistance, mainly from the UN, was needed.
He said the distribution of relief goods in the past 48 hours had been unhindered following his talks with certain militant groups in Mashkey, some of whom he was familiar with.
Initially, militants had demanded that they distribute relief goods in the district, a demand that was turned down by the provincial government. However, the chief minister said he had convinced the militants that the local administration will carry out the task.
He said that he has taken a tough stand against possible leakage of relief goods to the Quetta market.