QUETTA - Two soldiers of Pakistan Army were killed and three others wounded in a remote-controlled blast in the earthquake-stricken Awaran district on Wednesday.
The incident occurred when the soldiers were carrying relief goods for the earthquake victims. The banned Baloch Liberation Front (BLF) claimed responsibility for the attack.
According to security sources, the incident took place in the Jalwar area, some 8 kilometers from tehsil Mashkay of Awaran district, when an improvised explosive device planted by militants on a roadside exploded. As a result, two soldiers were killed and three others wounded.
The ISPR sources, confirming the incident, said the remote-controlled device exploded when a convoy of soldiers carrying relief goods to the quake-hit areas was on its way. Security personnel rushed to the site after the incident and shifted the injured and the dead to hospital.
Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch condemned the attack and said such incidents could not hamper relief activities in Awaran where, according to initial estimates, 25,000 families have been rendered homeless.
The banned outfit BLF’s spokesman, talking to media persons from some unspecified location, claimed responsibility for the attack on security personnel in Awaran.
Earlier, militants attacked helicopters and their convoys with rockets and heavy weapons to frighten security personnel, but they remained safe.
Awaran is one of highly sensitive districts of Balochistan and the hometown of BLF’s guerrilla commander, Dr Allah Nazar.
The Awaran district was severely hit by 7.8-magnitude earthquake on September 24 and September 28 in which, according to unofficial reports, more than 1,000 people lost their lives.
The personnel of Pakistan Army and Frontier Corps as well as the provincial government are carrying out relief activities in different tehsils of the Awaran district.
Official sources said 100 truckloads of relief goods were being despatched to the affected areas on daily basis. In addition, those injured in the quakes were being provided with complete medical treatment in the medical camps set up by the army, the provincial government and other organisations.
A senior official of the Balochistan government revealed that a donors’ conference would be called in Islamabad soon. The government has already appealed to the United Nations for help to reconstruct homes of more than 100,000 affected people.
Talking to Reuters, a prominent Baloch rebel commander threatened to step up attacks on security forces. “They (army) are directly involved in the large-scale killings of Baloch men,” Allah Nazar, head of the Baloch Liberation Front, told Reuters by telephone from a secret location in Balochistan. “They want to crush us and make money from the disaster relief.”
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.
Army units came under fire in five separate incidents throughout the day. Last week, two rockets narrowly missed a military helicopter and there have been several attacks on convoys carrying aid.
“We claim responsibility for Wednesday 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.”