ISLAMABAD — Heavily armed insurgents ambushed a military convoy in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province Friday, killing at least 14 soldiers.
The attack, one of the deadliest in recent years, occurred in the district of Gwadar, where China runs a deep-water Arabian Sea port.
The Pakistani military’s media wing confirmed the incident, saying “perpetrators of this heinous act will be hunted down and brought to justice.” It said that the convoy came under attack while moving between the towns of Pasni and Ormara.
Pakistan’s caretaker prime minister, Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, condemned “the terrorist attack” and paid tribute to the 14 soldiers who lost their lives, his office said.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility, but suspicions fell on ethnic Baluch militants, who routinely target security forces in the area. They say they are fighting for the independence of the natural resource-rich Baluchistan province.
Friday’s attack came on the same day a bomb explosion near a police patrol in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province killed at least five people and wounded 20 others.
No group took credit for the deadly bombing in the city of Dera Ismail Khan, where militants linked to the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, regularly carry out attacks against police and military forces.
TTP and Baluch insurgents have lately intensified attacks in both provinces, which sit on Pakistan’s nearly 2,600-kilometer (1,600-mile) border with Afghanistan. The violence has killed more than 700 people this year, including civilians, police and soldiers.
The military has confirmed nearly 240 soldiers and officers were among those killed.
Baluchistan, which also shares the country’s 900-kilometer (560-mile) border with Iran, has received significant Chinese investment in recent years under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, a bilateral extension of Beijing’s global Belt and Road Initiative.
Baluch insurgents have also targeted Chinese nationals associated with CPEC projects, killing several of them since the two countries launched the huge program a decade ago.
Separatist groups accuse Beijing and Islamabad of exploiting the oil, copper, gold, iron ore and other natural resources of Baluchistan, charges both countries reject as baseless.
Source : VOA News