QUETTA: Gunmen killed at least eight tribal police in an attack on a local checkpoint yesterday in Pakistan’s restive southwest, officials said.
The incident occurred in the Waadh area of Khuzdar district, some 350km southwest of Quetta, the capital of oil- and gas-rich Baluchistan province which borders Iran and Afghanistan.
“Gunmen attacked the checkpost early in the morning and shot dead eight tribal police officials, known as Levies,” provincial home secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani said. He said one other officer was wounded in the attack but survived, adding police will question him over how the fighting occurred and who the gunmen were once his condition stabilises.
A local intelligence official also confirmed the attack and casualties. So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Baluchistan, Pakistan’s largest but least developed and most sparsely populated province, is racked by a separatist insurgency as well as sectarian violence, Islamist militants and banditry.
The separatist conflict was revived in 2004, with nationalists seeking to stop what they see as the exploitation of the region’s natural resources and alleged rights abuses. The idea of giving greater autonomy to the province — which is the size of Italy but has just nine million inhabitants — is highly sensitive in a country still scarred by the war with its eastern portion in 1971, which saw that region break away to form an independent Bangladesh.
Baluchistan, spread over an unforgiving landscape of mountains and deserts abutting Iran and Afghanistan, is rich in gas and mineral deposits — adding a financial dimension to the battle.
In recent years, many people suspected of links to separatist groups have mysteriously disappeared, allegedly at the hands of the intelligence agencies. AFP