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Militants' attack oil company convoy in Balochistan kills Pakistani soldiers

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At least 20 people, including 13 soldiers, were killed Thursday in two separate terrorist attacks in Pakistan's restive province Balochistan and in North Waziristan tribal district.

Six soldiers, including an officer, were killed in an improvised explosive device (IED) attack on an army convoy near Razmak in North Waziristan, Army's Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.

Seven soldiers of Frontier Constabulary and seven private security guards were killed as an encounter took place between security forces and large number of terrorists on the Coastal Highway near Ormara when a convoy of Oil Compay was being escorted from Gwadar to Karachi, the ISPR said.

The security forces responded effectively, ensured security of the Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) employees and managed their safe exit from the area. During the clash, substantial losses were also incurred to the terrorists.

As a result of this encounter, seven soldiers of FC Balochistan and seven security guards were killed.

The ISPR said such cowardly acts by inimical elements to sabotage peace, stability and economic development in Balochistan shall never be allowed to succeed. "Moreover, these acts cannot subdue resolve of our forces which are determined to defend the motherland, even at the cost of their lives," said the ISPR.

Balochistan Home Minister Zia Langove was quoted as saying that at least seven assailants armed with rocket launchers and other heavy weapons were involved in the attack. "The attack was carried out by between seven and eight attackers who fired at the convoy with rocket launchers and other heavy weapons. They escaped from the area," he said.

Baloch Raji Ajoi Sangar (BRAS), an outlawed organization formed with the coalition of several extremist outfits of the province, claimed the attack on their unverified twitter account, Xinhua news agency said.

In a statement obtained by CNN, BRAS said that "companies like the OGDCL are exploiting Baloch resources in their strategy of extending the occupation of Balochistan." Calling for all operations to stop, BRAS said that it "completely rejects all Chinese agreements with the Pakistani occupying forces, and they stand null and void."

In 2015, under Beijing's Belt and Road trade and infrastructure scheme, China turned Gwadar into the deepest seaport in the world. The coastal town in Balochistan is now a hub of Chinese investment in Pakistan.

This is the deadliest attack on the Pakistani military this year, CNN said. In June, the Baloch Liberation Army, which is also affiliated with BRAS, carried out an attack on Pakistan's largest stock exchange in Karachi, killing five people.

For decades, Pakistan has accused India of meddling in Balochistan and its separatist insurgency.

Tellingly, in February 2014, just three months before he was appointed India's national security advisor, Ajit Doval tacitly acknowledged this. "You do one more Mumbai, you lose Balochistan," he said. Doval was referring to Pakistan's alleged involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which killed over 172 people and injured over 300.

In August 2016, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said : "The time has come when Pakistan shall have to answer to the world for the atrocities committed by it against people in Baluchistan."

Not surprisingly, in March 2016 Kulbhushan Sudhir Yadav, an Indian intelligence officer, was arrested from a compound in Mashkel, in Balochistan, in an area not far from Iranian border. It was revealed that Yadav used to visit Pakistan and lure Baloch students to carry out anti-national and other destabilizing activities by offering huge funding. Installations in coastal areas of Gawadar, Pasni, Jevani and other places in Balochistan were the target of Yadav.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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