QUETTA, Baluchistan (Reuters) - Pakistani paramilitary troops have killed at least 34 suspected Baluch rebels during a three day operation in the violence wracked southwestern province of Baluchistan, the government said on Saturday.
“The operation concluded today in which a huge quantity of arms and ammunition was also recovered from their camps, which were destroyed by the security forces,” said Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti, the provincial home minister at a press conference.
Bugti said those killed included Abdul Nabi Bangulzai, allegedly a “main commander” of the United Baloch Army, one of several armed separatist groups fighting Pakistani forces in the province.
Baluchistan has seen increasing violence since the start of the latest iteration of an ethnic Baluch separatist insurgency nearly a decade ago.
Attacks on security convoys and personnel by separatist fighters are common, as are retaliatory operations by Pakistani security forces, who rights group allege have abducted and extrajudicially killed hundreds of Baluch political activists.
The latest three-day operation took place in Kalat district, about 200km south of provincial capital Quetta.
The group targeted included fighters involved in an attack on a provincial judge in 2001, as well as a bus attack that saw 22 people killed last year, Bugti said.
In a separate incident, also on Saturday, six people were killed in an attack in the Prom area of Baluchistan’s Panjgur district, a local government official said.
Around 20 men, armed with heavy weaponry, attacked a house in the district, killing six people, including a woman, said Mujeeb-ur-Rehman Qambrani, the deputy commissioner for the district.
No group had yet claimed responsibility for that attack.
Baluchistan is set to see a large share of the $46 billion China is investing in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which culminates in the consolidation of a major port at Gwadar, in the southern part of the province.
Security has been a serious concern for CPEC projects all along the route from the Pakistan-China border in the north to Baluchistan in the south.
Separatist groups in Baluchistan have threatened to attack any CPEC projects in the province.
Writing by Asad Hashim; Editing by Toby Chopra