QUETTA: The paramilitary Frontier Corps and other law enforcement agencies in Balochistan province have intensified search operations across the province against armed militants.
Recent weeks have seen raids carried out at the hideouts of Taliban militants in Quetta, Qila Saifullah, Zhob, Ziarat, Loralai, Pishin and other northern areas of Balochistan.
“Several militants have been killed and many arrested,” Secretary Home and Tribal Affairs Balochistan, Akbar Durrani, told News Lens Pakistan. “All law enforcing agencies have been instructed to immediately act on information about militants.”
Security forces killed two suicide bombers and seized a huge cache of arms and ammunition near a border town in Qila Saifullah in the end of December, Durrani said. “Those two suicide bombers were from the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan.”
According to Home Department Balochistan, the law enforcement agencies have rounded up more than 400 illegal Afghan immigrants in Quetta and other areas of the province.
“There are 327,000 Afghan refugees registered with Balochistan government,” said Durrani. “A huge number of Afghan nationals have been residing [here] illegally. A crackdown has already been launched against illegal immigrants, who have been handed over to Afghan government.”
Home Minister Balochistan Sarfraz Bugti could not give the exact number of Taliban militants who have been arrested and killed during the recent search operations. “We will soon share the number”, he told News Lens.
Bugti said the search operations against Baloch separatists groups have also intensified. “At least eight Baloch militants, among them a commander of banned Baloch Republican Army, were killed and 15 have been arrested,” he said.
According to intelligence reports reaching here, the search operations were underway in parts of Makaran division, comprising four districts of Balochistan — Turbat, Panjgur, Gwadar and Awaran.
At least seven soldiers of Frontier Corps were killed in Loralai district during an attack at their check post in Mekhtar, about 150 kilometer north of Quetta on January 12. The banned Baloch Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the attack.
“Those people who have picked up arms and are fighting the state, whether they are Baloch militants or Taliban terrorists, are being dealt with iron hand”, Akbar Durrani said.
The Balochistan government has also launched a province-wide crackdown against the shops selling, printing and publishing hate materials.
“Hundreds of shopkeepers and publishers have been rounded up in 32 districts of the province”, a Home Department official told News Lens, asking not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media. “Cases have been registered against the shopkeepers and many were freed after a warning.”
Taliban militants also kidnapped nine people from a passenger coach and a private car on National Highway in Qila Saifullah district on January6. They killed one of the kidnapped men who has been identified as an official of Pakistan Air Force.
They freed two people — a student and the driver on finding that they did not belong to any government department.
Search operations have been launched in Musa Khail and Qila Saifullah to trace the kidnappers. “Security forces arrested some suspects who had provided food to the kidnappers,” said the Home Secretary Akbar Durrani. “Soon the remaining six kidnapped people would be freed.”
Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti said the operations would continue till the militants and extremists are eliminated.